JACKSONVILLE – DJ Chark's goals are presumably lofty.
We say "presumably" because the Jaguars' Pro Bowl wide receiver doesn't share them. Still, they drive the third-year veteran – whatever the surrounding circumstances.
"It's really an internal battle," Chark said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-7) prepared to play the Green Bay Packers (6-2) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday at 1 p.m.
Chark's goals are such that seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown this past week against the Houston Texans – his best statistical game of the season – didn't meet them.
"I definitely feel like I could've done better," he said.
Goal-meeting or not, what Chark's performance did do was help rookie quarterback Jake Luton in his first NFL start. Chark's 73-yard touchdown reception on the game's third play not only helped Luton's confidence, but it also prevented the Texans from focusing on rookie running back James Robinson.
Robinson finished Sunday with 99 yards and a touchdown, and the Jaguars finished with 403 yards offense – their third-highest of the season and most since they produced 429 in a Week 4 loss at Cincinnati."
"To get him the touchdown on the third or fourth play of the game was critical as far as a domino effect for the way he played," Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. "We have to get him the ball early and see if we can get him going because he's an explosive guy."
Another reason for Chark's performance: He was fully healthy after practicing limited because of an ankle injury in the final two games before a Week 8 bye.
"Having a good week at practice, honing in on his assignments, I think he did good," Gruden said.
Chark on Wednesday was asked about being frustrated at times this season, particularly the last two games before the bye. He was targeted 21 times in those two games, catching eight passes for 71 yards and no touchdowns.
"I have pretty high goals for myself, goals that I usually don't speak on," he said. "I hold myself to those standards. Any frustration that the outside may see, it's because of my goals and the way that I want things to happen, not necessarily based on anyone else or the team or anything. Even on good games, like the last game, I felt like I did well, but if I had to grade myself it definitely wasn't 100 percent.
"That's something that my wife talked to me about, just basically I can't put too much pressure on shoulders. But I feel like if I want to be great, that's the expectations that I have to reach. It's really just me versus me. It's not necessarily anything someone else is doing."
Look for the Jaguars to keep getting creative defensively. Just don't look for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone to celebrate the unit's recent performance – unless it keeps getting better. "There has been some slight improvement along the lines of what we're trying to get done defensively, but not enough to go out there and start bragging about it, obviously because of our record," Marrone said Wednesday. The Jaguars, after allowing at least 30 points in six consecutive games, allowed "just" 27 to Houston Sunday. They held the Texans scoreless on three fourth-quarter drives, and also had one of their better pass-rushing days of the season with two sacks. One reason was one of the team's most creative blitz packages in recent memory – with multiple plays featuring few down linemen and blitzes from linebackers and defensive backs. "If we would've just stayed the same, we could've gotten a little better, but we weren't going to get good enough right away to probably make an impact," Marrone said. "We're changing so many things just to try to make sure we can put our guys in the best position. So, we're going to continue to do that because we have to do that. If we can start getting the production, or more production, then things will work out well. If we don't, then we're going to keep trying to search for those answers and find another way."
If Marrone seemed reluctant to discuss the Jaguars' defensive improvement Wednesday, he said the reason was the 1-7 record and current seven-game losing streak: "I don't want to be one of these guys that bull**s and tries to [explain] the philosophy and doing all that stuff; I do see improvement but it's obviously not at the rate that we need. These guys are working hard, and we have no issues within the building, which gives us a chance, and they're playing hard. How much better we can get them in this period of time and try to win as many games as we can? That's exactly what we're trying to do. So, I don't want to be that guy that comes out after you lose a game and is like, 'Oh, we're getting better.' I think people don't want to hear that crap, at least [in] my opinion."