The playoffs are no longer a possibility and the coach refuses to look ahead to next year. What's left in this season to motivate the Jaguars?
"Just be inspired by the opportunity to play; win as many as we can. That's why we're here. I just want to see us play as well as we can," coach Tom Coughlin told reporters today.
This Sunday, opportunity will present itself in the form of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Three Rivers Stadium, where the Jaguars will face their first true cold-weather football game since they lost to the New York Jets in the 1998 playoffs. The forecast for Pittsburgh Sunday night is calling for temperatures in the 20's and snow showers.
Nothing about this season is getting any easier for the Jaguars. A season that began with the warm glow of Super Bowl hopes has now turned into the cold reality of playing out the string, and Thanksgiving is still a week away.
"I don't know if I've ever been in a situation like this, and the tough thing is there was such high expectations, and there should have been," quarterback Mark Brunell said.
Brunell and the Jaguars actually had the same record, 3-7, at this point in the team's inaugural season, 1995, but that was a season of enthusiasm for the future. This year, the Jaguars have had to struggle with remorse for the past; for opportunities wasted.
Even in that inaugural season, the Jaguars journeyed to Pittsburgh with a chance to tie for the division lead. Not this year. If the Jaguars are to find motivation for this Sunday night's nationally-televised game, it will have to rest on the idea of beating a team that represents fonder times for the Jaguars. Once upon a time, the Steelers were the team in decline and the Jaguars were the young team on the rise. Now, it is the reverse.
"When we started this franchise, we modeled this to be a team that could beat the Steelers," Coughlin said. "The last time we played the Steelers (Oct. 1), we threw the ball 45 times and rushed for 26 yards."
That was not the model Coughlin had in mind.
"I think guys will play hard. We may not be in the playoff hunt, but we'd still like to have some respect," Brunell said of what a win in Pittsburgh would do for the Jaguars.
Play the spoiler?
"It's the furthest thing from my mind. How we affect other teams, I could care less," Brunell said.
Meanwhile, Coughlin continues to juggle his roster. The Jaguars announced today that they've cut kicker Steve Lindsey and have replaced him with Jim Tarle, a Jacksonville product who kicked for the Jacksonville Tomcats of arenafootball2 this year. Tarle was signed because it is believed he will offer more consistency with the depth of his kickoffs.
Also, Coughlin said there's an outside chance Leon Searcy will be ready to play in the Nov. 26 game against Tennessee, and that the Jaguars will have rookie running back Shyrone Stith available for duty this Sunday in Pittsburgh.
On the flip side, middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson will not play in Pittsburgh and his arthroscopic knee surgery of two weeks ago is now threatening what's left of the season for Nickerson.
Rookie offensive tackle Mark Baniewicz has been placed on the injured reserve list with a cracked patella.