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View from the O-Zone: "These are tough times right now…"


ATLANTA, Ga. – This one felt familiar.

That's not good, but considering the circumstances of this Jaguars 2019 season – and there has been no shortage of we-e-e-e-eirdcircumstances this season – that the familiar feeling wasn't good isn't surprising.

Atlanta Falcons 24, Jaguars 12.

That was the score Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of an announced 70,783. And while the game meant little in the official sense, it was still one the Jaguars wanted – if for nothing else, to maintain the momentum and good feeling of the week prior.

That didn't happen, and Sunday's post-game reflected it.

"These are tough times right now," rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II said after the Jaguars' sixth loss in the last seven games.

"We're doing everything we can. We're busting our tail trying to figure it out. I don't think there's any magic switch or anything that just can happen. But we're going to do everything in our power to make it right."

No, there's no magic switch.

If there were, Head Coach Doug Marrone obviously would have used it. Marrone has owned the Jaguars' late-season slide, publicly saying week after week he is responsible for a record that slipped to 5-10 when the gun sounded Sunday.

Marrone used words Sunday such as humiliating and embarrassing in the postgame, and it was clear from his demeanor and tone he meant them.

"It's tough, for all of us," Marrone said.

Yes, Sunday was tough for the Jaguars, but that's hardly surprising. This has been a brutally tough season – and not just on the field. Sunday's game ended a difficult week, with the major news coming Wednesday when Jaguars Owner Shad Khan relieved Tom Coughlin of his duties as executive vice president of football operations.

The dismissal came after an NFL Player Association memo outlining what it considered excessive fining under Coughlin, and the week was only the latest this season to feature weirdness around the Jaguars.

The trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey …

A Week 1 injury to starting quarterback Nick Foles …

The offseason retirement of linebacker Telvin Smith …

Twelve-year veteran defensive end Calais Campbell admitted Sunday he never had had a season with quite so many off-field issues. He was also quick to discount that as a reason for Sunday's loss – or any other.

"Things happen," Campbell said. "You have to be able to handethe distractions, no matter what it is. This is def a lot more than any season I've had, but what can you do? "Nobody's going to feel sorry for you. You still have a job to do and you have to get it done. Today, we didn't."

Here's the first thing you'll ask: How much did Sunday have to do with Coughlin's dismissal? The guess here? Not much, if at all. The Coughlin dismissal was more of a long-term than short-term issue. This game – and indeed the rest of the season – shouldn't be seen as a report card on that move.

The second thing you'll ask: What will Sunday mean for the future of Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell, a future that is on the minds of pretty much any Jaguars observer these days?

That's a tougher question, but Sunday doesn't help. The Falcons had won four of six games entering Sunday. They had won in San Francisco and New Orleans in recent weeks against two of the NFC's best teams. This would have been the Jaguars' best victory of the season, and staying out of double-digit losses would have helped the perception.

Instead, the Jaguars had essentially a copy of the last seven games. A slow start. Plenty of fight and togetherness to fight. Not enough offense or defense to make the fight winnable.

So now, one game remains – at home against Indianapolis in seven days. Marrone was asked in his postgame comments Sunday about his message to the players. He said he talked to them about playing together one last time because whatever happens after the season, many players – and perhaps some coaches – won't return. He talked to them about enjoying the holidays, when appropriate. He talked to them, too, about closing with a victory.

When discussing this, he also didn't avoid the idea that he could be coaching for his job and the job of many others on the staff. Marrone is not one to avoid the obvious and he didn't do it Sunday.

"I think that would mean a lot to everyone," he said of beating Indianapolis at TIAA Bank Field next Sunday. "After that, as you guys know, whatever happens happens."

Will there be change? We likely won't know for seven days. That's the long-term story. The short-term story is that the Jaguars lost Sunday.

That felt kind of familiar. Too familiar.

But considering the circumstances of this season, the feeling wasn't surprising. Not at all.

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