JACKSONVILLE – The incentives are gone.
Doug Marrone knows this about this season. Because of that, the Jaguars' head coach said motivation moves away from playoffs and season-ending standings into something more vague.
"You would hope the love of the game takes over more than anything else," Marrone said Wednesday as the Jaguars (4-9) prepared to play the Washington Redskins (6-7) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
That's where the Jaguars are these days.
They have lost eight of nine games to turn a 3-1, first-place start into a sub-.500, last-place record with three games remaining in the regular season. A 30-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans last Thursday not only assured them a losing season, it officially eliminated them from postseason contention.
That's not the season the Jaguars expected after winning the AFC South and advancing to the AFC Championship Game last season for the first time in 18 seasons.
Marrone called it a "tough situation."
"You sit there and say, 'OK, it's your job, it's what you have to do,''' Marrone said. "But there has to be something greater than that. That's where it comes down to, 'Do you love this game?'
"You have to go out there and play the game like you were a little kid. No one's watching. No one's around. You were just competitive and had fun. Those are the things you go through when you have a season like we have, which has been disappointing."
Marrone also on Wednesday said while rookie wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. will miss a fourth consecutive game Sunday with a quadriceps injury, the team could activate Josh Wells from injured reserve this week.
Wells, who started at left tackle in Weeks 3-5 before sustaining a groin injury in a 30-14 loss at Kansas City Chiefs, is eligible to come off injured reserve this week. Marrone said the team might make the move later in the week.
As was the case last week, Marrone was asked on Wednesday if he believed he was coaching for his job in the final weeks of the season.
"Every day – same as last year," he said. "I coach every day as if you're always coaching for it. Everyone knows that. We all know that."
He also was asked about players realizing the need to play well for their job security as opposed to wanting the season to end.
"You would hope they're smart enough for that," Marrone said. "People are going to evaluate everything. I'm sure after the season everything will be evaluated. With players, it's the same way. They're going to be evaluated on their performance.
"I can't speak for everyone else. I can tell you how I look at it. If I was looking at a player on another team, I would look at first the consistency throughout the season. I would be very concerned and put a red flag up if he was doing really well when they were doing well and then at the end of the year didn't put that same type of production in. That would be a major concern."
Also on Wednesday:
*Defensive tackle Abry Jones said he will play Sunday after missing Thursday's loss to Tennessee with a shin contusion sustained the previous Sunday against Indianapolis. "If the game hadn't been Thursday, I think I would have had a good chance to play," Jones said. Jones was listed as likely to practice limited in practice Wednesday along with offensive lineman Josh Walker (ankle) and tight end James O'Shaughnessy (ankle). Chark (quadricep), linebacker Leon Jacobs (quadricep) and right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee) all were listed as not expected to practice Wednesday. Walker has missed the last four games and Chark has missed the last three; Jacobs was injured against Tennessee.