JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser spent time this week with tight end Julius Thomas, discussing three topics as the Jaguars prepared to play the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday
The topic: A change at coordinator
The background:The Jaguars this week changed offensive coordinators, with former quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett replacing dismissed Greg Olson. The Jaguars rank 26th in the NFL in total yards, have been shut out in the first half three times this season and have scored six total points in the last three first halves.
The quote:"A change can give a spark. Anytime you mix things up there's that hope that, 'Man, this can be what gets us going.' But I think we can't get caught up in 'New Coach So Everything Will Just Fix Itself.' We have to focus on being responsible for what it's going to take as players to play at a higher level. Making a change can be exciting. It can give you a little extra boost, but ultimately this is the NFL. If you're hoping that a new face and a couple of new techniques or new things in the offense are going to fix not executing … that's just not the way it's going to work. Everybody has the same plays on every team. It's how you call them and when you call them. Yes, that can make a difference, but ultimately it's on us to execute. There were opportunities we missed with Oley (Greg Olson) as the coordinator. We can't let that same thing happen with Nate. We have to make sure we're doing our part and putting our team in the best position to win."
The topic: Confidence.
The background:The Jaguars entered the 2016 season with expectations of pushing for a winning season. The offense entered the season believing it would continue developing into a front-line unit. Instead, the team is 2-5 and the offense is struggling mightily. Thomas was asked how to remain confident given the situation.
The quote: "I think as players the confidence is always something you're going to battle. Whatever's happening in your career at that point or whatever's happening with your team … that's probably the most underrated part of professional sports. Everybody can play. Every team has great athletes. So, it's about the confidence and the belief that you're going to go out there and play as a unit, play together and come up with a team win. That's something we have to find a way to do – play together, rely on each other and everybody take advantage of their opportunities so we can go out and execute at a high level."
The topic:What's next?
The background:The Jaguars not only have struggled through the first seven games, they face a difficult road trip to Kansas City this week. They realistically need to win seven of nine games to make a push for the postseason, so a lot of the team's preseason goals seem difficult to attain. So, what's next? How will the Jaguars respond?
The quote:"As players, we have to focus on the next play and the next drive, the next quarter and the next half. That's how you turn things around. That's how you gain confidence – by doing things right, having success and making the most out of every one of your opportunities. That's what's going to turn things around. You're either dealing with prosperity or adversity and you treat them both the same. Whether we're 5-2 or 2-5, we still have a test this week against a good opponent. Your record doesn't matter when you strap your helmet up on Sunday. We have to go out there and play football. We're not going to wake up in the morning and think, 'This is just pointless; pack it up.' Everybody here does this because they want to be great. They want to play at the highest level and compete against the best players in the world, so when you have that mindset you're always going to believe you have the opportunity."