JACKSONVILLE – Effort is not an issue.
Head Coach Doug Marrone has made that clear throughout the Jaguars' current six-game losing streak, and he reiterated the point Tuesday.
"The one thing that's going on right now is no one can question how hard these guys are playing – and the coaches are working their asses off," Marrone said Tuesday during his only scheduled media availability of the Jaguars' 2020 bye week.
"As long as you have that, you have a chance."
The Jaguars (1-6) enter the bye on a six-game losing streak. They lost to the Los Angeles Chargers, 39-29, this past Sunday – their fourth loss this season by 10 or more points.
Marrone the focus moving forward will be on the final nine games – not the first seven.
"My deal with the team is, 'Listen: We're coming back and we're going to have nine games left; I want to stop going back in the past, thinking about the record and where it is – and let's go ahead and go after this nine-game season and break it up into three quarters and let's go play football,''' Marrone said. "'Let's play at our best, let's coach at our best and let's coach each game like it's the most important game in the world.'
"I know that's cliché, because every game is [important], but I also have a level of excitement thinking about it that way."
Marrone on Tuesday outlined his expected approach during the bye, saying the coaching staff will self-scout and examine coaching, personnel, scheme and overall approach. He spoke specifically of addressing a defense that has allowed 30 or more points in each of the last six games – the longest such single-season streak in franchise history.
"We can do things defensively to maybe avoid the explosive plays," Marrone said. "There's a lot that goes into that – in what you're doing and how you're doing it. We're going to talk about different things. It might be week-to-week game plan adjustments of what we do, depending on our matchups.'
Marrone said the losing streak isn't just about the defense.
"There's pressure on all of us," Marrone said. "When you're sitting here with the record we have, it's not one thing or another. It's really everything. You see flashes of good play around, but gosh: you don't see the consistency that you need to win football games."
Marrone detailed the Jaguars' bye week schedule, noting that while players will be off Thursday-Sunday – as mandated by the NFL and NFL Players Association Collective Bargaining Agreement – they still will be tested daily under NFL/NFLPA COVID-19 protocols. Because the Jaguars remain under the NFL's "intensive protocols" after a practice squad player recently tested positive for COVID-19, meetings with players Tuesday and Wednesday will be conducted virtually. Marrone said he will meet with the team at 2:30 Tuesday. "I'll reiterate what I said in the locker room after the game," Marrone said. "Where we are obviously is disappointing. It's not where we want to be. That's basically what I told them. I reiterated all the things I've been saying to everyone here about there's flashes, there's times and we haven't been able to take advantage of situations. Critical points we haven't been able to execute. It's not one person, two people. It's not a unit. It's on all of us."
Marrone on Tuesday said he doesn't see a relationship problem between quarterback Gardner Minshew II and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. After catching 18 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns on 20 targets in his first four games this season, Chark has eight receptions for 71 yards and no touchdowns on 21 targets in the last two games. "I don't see a problem with the relationship, so it's not that," Marrone said. "I do acknowledge that we haven't been doing as good a job as we've done early in the year. That can cause frustration. For us as coaches, we have to be challenged to upgrade ourselves there. That's one thing we have to do a better job of – our intermediate game and our deep game. It's definitely something we can improve on from a coaching standpoint and a player standpoint."
Marrone said linebacker Myles Jack (ankle) could return for the team's game against the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday, November 8; Jack missed Sunday's game at Los Angeles. Marrone wasn't as certain about running back Devine Ozigbo (hamstring) and cornerback Sidney Jones IV (back) but said tight end Tyler Eifert (neck) and guard A.J. Cann (shoulder) should return against Houston.