JACKSONVILLE – Doug Pederson still believes. Absolutely and positively.
A three-game October losing streak doesn't change that. Because when the Jaguars' head coach looks at the team lately, he sees what he has seen much of the season:
A very capable team that must eliminate very avoidable mistakes.
"I'm still confident in this group," Pederson said Monday, a day after a 14-3 first-half lead became a last-minute 34-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. "When you put the tape on, it's about us; it's about what we do and sometimes about what we don't do.
"We've got a group of guys who want to get it fixed. That's the encouraging part."
The Jaguars, after winning back-to-back one-sided games over the Colts and the Los Angeles Chargers Weeks 2-3 to move into first place in the AFC South, are now 2-4. They remain in third place in the South behind the Tennessee Titans (3-2) and the Colts (3-2-1).
"October's been spooky, to say the least," wide receiver Zay Jones said. "You want to play your best football in November and December. You don't want to peak too soon. I feel as though this team is on pace to do something special down the road.
"November and December, when we start clicking at that moment, and we gain that momentum, I think that's what makes a dangerous team. Hopefully, we can put ourselves in that category."
Said Pederson, "We just take it one week at a time. Some people want it sooner than later. There's some patience involved. Everybody needs to know the importance of every play, every snap, every series – practice, games, the whole thing. That's just the nature of what we do."
The Jaguars finished with 377 yards offense Sunday, including a season-high 243 yards and three touchdowns rushing. They went three-for-three touchdowns in the red zone, but the Colts scored four touchdowns and a field goal on their final five drives to overcome a 14-3 first-half Jaguars lead.
Colts quarterback Matt Ryan completed 42 of 58 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and no sacks. The Colts scored touchdowns on all three second-half possessions, converting all six of their second-half third downs.
"We've just got to be able to get it all together," Pederson said. "That's where we're sort of a little bit out of whack right now. We haven't been able to play complementary football together. That's what needs to get fixed."
A roughing-the-passer penalty on rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker on third-and-12 from the Colts 43 extended the Colts' first touchdown drive of the second half. An interference penalty on cornerback Shaq Griffin extended on third-and-8 from the Jaguars 17 extended a second-quarter Colts touchdown drive.
"Everybody needs to know the importance of each game," Pederson said. "Each game is its own entity. There are things that are still kind of showing up in these games that are self-inflicted. It so happened this week it was third downs in the second half, being able to get off the field defensively.
"Those were all things we have to eliminate, have to correct."
Pederson said his message to the Jaguars Monday was "at some point, we need somebody to make a play."
"We just have to be able to do that a little better," he said.
Players on Monday said belief remains strong that that will happen, and that a difficult October will yield better months ahead.
"I've got confidence in the boys," linebacker Foye Oluokun said. "That's what everybody's signed up to do. Obviously, we have to do it. It's one thing to sit here and say, 'I want to fix this and that.' It's really how we start fixing this and that."
Said Jones, "Losses will tell you a lot about yourself – a lot about yourself as a man and the type of character you have. I think we're at a good point in our season now as a new Jaguars team to decide, 'Are we going to turn the table and be something new or are we going to fall into old habits?' I truly believe this is a special group.
"I believe in this group to win football games. Moving forward, I think it's a great opportunity for us."
- Wide receiver Jamal Agnew sustained a strained knee ligament Sunday and will be "day-to-day," Pederson said Monday. Agnew has seven receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns this season with a 5.8-yard average on 11 punt returns and a 22.1-yard average on seven kickoff returns.