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Moving ahead

Posted Dec 12, 2011

Tucker says time for celebration over as Jaguars look to Atlanta.

A day later, Mel Tucker said perspective not only was needed, but easy to find.

Tucker, the Jaguars’ interim coach, said while winning for the first time as an NFL head coach Sunday afternoon was memorable – and while he appreciated and understood the emotions of Jaguars players afterward – it was “just one game.”

Besides, he said, the Jaguars play a nationally-televised game in just three days. That means this is no time for a long celebration.

That was why he liked what he saw late Sunday afternoon.

“I didn’t think it was overly jubilant in the locker room,” Tucker said Monday, a day after the Jaguars’ 41-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field.

“It wasn’t overly festive. Obviously, because it was my first win, guys wanted to make me feel good. That was part of it, but the other part of it was guys said, ‘Hey, we kind of expected this to happen.’

“We came into this game expecting to win, expecting to have success.”

Tucker said that’s key, because the key to success in the NFL is consistency and the key to consistency is not getting too up after a victory or too down after a loss.

Tucker, who took over as interim coach for Jack Del Rio 13 days ago, said the Jaguars took the proper approach the week leading to his first game, a Monday Night loss to the san Diego Chargers. He said what was more impressive – and more important – was in the wake of the San Diego loss players didn’t change their attitude, approach or preparation.

On Sunday, the Jaguars fell behind 14-0, at which point they had been outscored 38-0 in a little more than three quarters. But the Jaguars outscored the Buccaneers 28-0 in the second quarter, tying a franchise record for points in a quarter.

By game’s end, Maurice Jones-Drew had scored a career-high four touchdowns – two receiving and two rushing – the defense and special teams had forced seven turnovers and each unit scored a touchdown, and the Jaguars had scored a season-high 41 points.

Their previous high for the season had been 20 points.

The Jaguars will play the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome Thursday at 8:20 p.m. The game will be televised on the NFL Network.

 “You have to keep things in perspective,” Tucker said. “The proper perspective right now is, ‘If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.’ We have to figure out a way in a short period of time to improve in all three phases. We have to improve starting today. We have to move forward, period.”

Tucker received a game ball from the players after Sunday’s game, and also received a necklace from the defensive line. Tucker joked Monday that the linemen had confiscated the necklace, but said the football is in his office at EverBank Field.

“I feel about the same, personally,” Tucker said. “Everyone in the building has a little more pep in their step today. We want to continue to work and strive to put ourselves in position where we can win more games. I’m always going to be encouraged and upbeat about the next opportunity.

“You don’t get very many in this business. We have another one this week, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Also on Monday:

*Tucker said the Jaguars could sign a kicker this week. Kicker Josh Scobee said Sunday he tweaked a groin before the victory over Tampa Bay. He kicked extra points following the first five touchdowns, but the Jaguars opted to go for a first down on 4th-and-9 late in the game. When the Jaguars scored a touchdown on that drive, they attempted a two-point conversion. Linebacker Russell Allen kicked the ensuing kickoff. “We’ll have a kicker available,” Tucker said. “We’ll be prepared in that regard.”

*Tucker said punter Nick Harris isn’t currently in the team’s plans for handling kickoffs, and also joked about Allen’s effort in the role Sunday. “We have to get better with Russell Allen,” Tucker said, smiling. “He’ll be the first to tell you he was disappointed in the effort. I think he’s going to hear about that for some days to come in the locker room.” Allen’s kick traveled 20 yards.

*Taylor said the status of defensive end Matt Roth (concussion), wide receiver Mike Thomas (concussion), wide receiver Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and safety Dwight Lowery (shoulder) likely will be “day-to-day” this week. Roth has been out three games, and Lowery missed Sunday’s game. Thomas and Shorts were injured on Sunday.

*Tucker said wide receiver Taylor Price, signed off waivers from New England early last week, could play a role against Atlanta if Thomas and Shorts can’t play. “Price would be available to go,” Tucker said, adding that it “remains to be seen” if Price would be ready to start. “He’s one of those guys who’s going to have an opportunity to possible step up and help us. That’s why he’s here.”

*Tucker said rookie free agent RB DuJuan Harris “has made a tremendous amount of progress” this season. Harris, who was promoted from the practice squad before the Jaguars’ December 5 loss to San Diego, rushed 24 yards on his lone carry Sunday. “He’s very explosive and the thing I noticed about him the most is defensively we went against him every day, week in and week out, and he gave us fits in practice,” Tucker said. “If a guy can do it in practice, you say, ‘Well, maybe he can help us in the game.’ He has earned that right to show us what he can do.’’

*Tucker said while he doesn’t know his long-term coaching future, the issue is in no way a distraction, and added, “I don’t have to block it out. It’s not part of what I’m thinking about right now. I’ve already made a decision that I’m going to do whatever I can do to help the football team. I put the team first, so once you commit, that makes it easy from that standpoint.” Tucker said the day-to-day operations involved with being a head coach take enough time to make it easy to not think much about his personal future. “You don’t have time to think about things that aren’t important.”

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