View from the O-Zone: A bold, urgent day
Oehser: HC Doug Marrone and Jaguars players set an urgent tone Wednesday, but what matters is how the Jaguars play against the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field Sunday
JACKSONVILLE – The words were bold, and that was a start.
The actions were the same – and all that Head Coach Doug Marrone-inspired boldness gave TIAA Bank Field an urgent feel Wednesday.
“There is no way anyone in this building should be comfortable,” Marrone said Wednesday morning as the Jaguars (3-3) prepared to play the Houston Texans (3-3) at TIAA Bank Field in downtown Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m. “We know that.
“We earned that right to be where we are. We’re the ones that put us where we are.”
That was one money quote from Marrone Wednesday morning.
The afternoon was about more than quotes, with Marrone putting the Jaguars through what several players afterward called a training-camp style practice in the wake of a two-game losing streak that has threatened to turn what began as a promising season into something far different.
“Doug and the coaches did a good job of pushing us and making sure we’re getting the quality work that we need to get done at this point in the week to be ready to go on Sunday,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said. “That’s all part of our weekly preparation.
“Coach Marrone felt like we needed to push that a little bit and that’s what we did today. I thought it went well. We got a lot of good reps in and it’s obviously hotter.
“That’s the camp feel, and I thought it was good.”
That Marrone’s tone was urgency Wednesday was hardly surprising.
He first set the tone behind a post-game podium following a 40-7 loss at Dallas Sunday. He set it again Monday, and he sure set it Wednesday. He talked of work. And fundamentals. And basics.
He said the right things you would expect from a coach whose team started the season 3-1 with high hopes before back-to-back, sloppy, one-sided losses – most recently to Dallas and a week before in a 30-14 loss to Kansas City.
The Jaguars failed to score in the first half of either game. A franchise-defining defense failed to play like it in either game. Turnovers defined both games.
The way back to where the Jaguars believed they should be won’t be easy, Marrone said Wednesday.
Then again, winning isn’t supposed to be easy.
“There is no magic pill or magic moment that you can just snap your fingers and go,” Marrone said Wednesday. “The only way to start playing better is you have to work your ass off. You have to work hard. You have to go back there. You have to coach better. We have to play better. I have to do a better job. That is how simple it is.
“It is like that with anything in life, whether it is football, family or work or whatever it may be: You eat some shit and you go out there and you get your act in gear.”
Make no mistake: Marrone’s message was the right one: There is no magic NFL scheme or formula and returning to basics and fundamentals is the way out. When great NFL coaches face crisis, they simplify. That’s Marrone’s approach this week.
And make no mistake about this, either:
Jaguars players heard his message.
“Adversity helps you develop the character you need as a team,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We’ll learn a lot about ourselves, going forward – who we are as a team and how bad we really want it. It’s easy to believe things are terrible, but there’s a lot of football to be played.”
Safety Tashaun Gipson agreed.
“Is it something we needed to hear? I think that was already understood,” Gipson said of Marrone’s message. “I would hope we have the guys in here who understand that, and that Coach didn’t need to come in there and say that. We have mature guys who understand we have to get this thing right.
“It was a message that when it was said kind of resonated in everybody’s mind – that before we let thing get out of hand, let’s start righting the wrongs.”
And so, it went on memorable Wednesday at the Bank …
Not every regular-season Wednesday has anywhere near the urgent feel this one did – and the reasons for that are many. The Jaguars could be in first place with a victory Sunday, or third place with a loss. They could feel great afterward, or lousy.
But mostly this Wednesday – and indeed this entire week – feels urgent because this very simply is a team that needs to play good again.
Can an injured offense find enough playmakers to do that? That’s a tough ask, though a necessary one. Can a struggling defense find itself and return to form? No one imagined that question being asked in Week 7, but it’s certainly a question now.
Those answers will come Sunday.
The Jaguars’ play that day must be urgent and bold as their words and actions were Wednesday. A special season could be at stake.