JACKSONVILLE – The point has been reached where the pace must pick up.
This was Tuesday, two days after a ninth loss in 10 games to start his second season as the Jaguars' head coach. True to character, Gus Bradley talked about competition, about liking the team's approach and about progress being made.
He also said something else:
That while all of those things are good, and while all of those things indicate steps in a good direction, they aren't happening quickly enough.
"We're not pleased with where we're at right now," Bradley said Tuesday afternoon as the Jaguars met as a team for the final time before leaving for their Week 11 bye week. "We would hope that we would play more consistently. We're making progress in multiple areas but just not fast enough.
"We've talked about a race to maturity but we just need it to happen faster."
The Jaguars on Sunday lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-17, at Wembley Stadium in London. It was their third straight loss since a 24-6 victory over Cleveland in Week 7.
As players left for five days before returning Monday to prepare for Indianapolis on November 23, they echoed the thoughts many expressed In the locker room at Wembley Sunday – that what's going on right now isn't good enough.
"There is a next step we have to get to because we've lost a lot of close games," veteran defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "We've lost a lot of 'should-have-won' games. A lot of the stuff we give up is so simple. That type of stuff, we have to eliminate.
"There's no way around it: we haven't been playing great ball; we haven't been playing good ball. We're giving up too many points. I don't know if it's 'grow closer.' I don't know if it's 'talk more.' I'm sure they're going to evaluate it over the bye week, but it's something we have to do."
The Jaguars enter the bye on a similar note as last season, when they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 42-10, at Wembley in Week 8. Bradley gave players the next week off, after which the Jaguars won four of their next five games.
Bradley gave players this week off, too, with meetings held Tuesday before players left for the end of the week and weekend.
"We didn't do it (practice over the bye) last year," Bradley said. "Physically right now where we're at, to get everybody back to health, I think it will be the best thing for us right now with this approach."
Bradley said coaches during meetings Tuesday asked players to look at their assignments as well as other ways they can contribute, adding that although the Jaguars don't have the record they wanted there have been positives. He said he liked the team's mentality, as well as the players' approach in practice.
"Those things we're not going to take for granted," he said. "Now that part hasn't got us any victories or what we're looking for right now but I do think it's a big part of in the future, for when we come back that it's important. …
"But the biggest challenge is to find solutions. How can we get this corrected?"
Bradley also said despite the record the focus will remain on the final six regular-season games and not the future.
"It's about what solutions can we find now to help us when we come back from that bye week and the direction we want to go," Bradley said. "The renewed focus, the renewed responsibility and what we challenge them on, I think those things will be new. I said (to the players), 'When you come back, you're going to feel it from us on certain things that we've got to get taken care of.' …
"We're really at the point now where we're not playing our best ball; we're not playing consistently well throughout. We have these situations that come up, the fumbles and turnovers and the adversity that comes up sometimes keeps us from being our best. That's what we need to address right now and that's really got to be our focus."
Bradley on Tuesday also said:
*While a season-ending foot injury sustained by rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson will have an impact, he said it also will be an opportunity for rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee. "He's had three good weeks of practice and I thought last week was his best week of practice," Bradley said. "It will force it now to where he will get a lot of chance to experience. I think the challenge for him was taking it from the practice field onto the game field." Lee has started three games this season with 13 receptions for 141 yards. …
*Wide receiver Ace Sanders will remain the team's punt returner. Sanders had a fumble in the first quarter Sunday that led directly to the Cowboys' first touchdown, and has a 7.4-yard average on 20 punt returns this season. Bradley said consideration had been given to using Lee on punt returns, but his increased role in Robinson's absence likely will prevent that. "I think now with the injuries that are taking place we will lock him into playing wide receiver," Bradley said. …
*While safety Johnathan Cyprien struggled against Dallas he had been playing well this season before that. "Sometimes you get frustrated because you want more opportunities," he said. "He didn't have one of his better games against Dallas. He had some missed tackles and things like that but we've got to get him refocused and get him back on track. He didn't play terrible but he didn't play as well as he's capable of." …
*The hope is that Jeremiah George will return from a high-ankle sprain following the bye week, with J.T. Thomas moving back to the Otto role. Thomas played the middle against Dallas with George out. "That would be a good strong possibility," Bradley said. …