Time remains, but the time is now.
As running back
Yes, the Jaguars are three games under .500.
At the same time, they’re two and a half games behind most of the AFC, and as Jones-Drew said as the Jaguars prepared to play the Oakland Raiders Sunday, “every game is important.”
“This league is so crazy you never know what play, what game, is going to decide anything,” Jones-Drew said as the Jaguars prepared to play the Oakland Raiders (1-4) at O.co Coliseum Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
Anything can happen in the NFL, and there are cases of 1-4 teams making the postseason.
At the same time . . .
“You’re running out of weeks,” Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. “We’re behind. We’ve got to catch back up, but we can only do that one week at a time. We don’t have a lot of room for error.”
Jaguars players said this week no question coming out of the bye the team is at a critical time. There was a positive feeling in the locker room this week, with tweaks made and players returning to the lineup from injury, but the Jaguars have had positive feelings earlier this season. They had it during training camp and the preseason, too.
The Jaguars made significant strides during those times, and those around the team believe the strides were real. They also believe the team isn’t as far away as some people think.
The way to prove that is to win.
“Obviously we dug ourselves a hole, but we can get out,” Jones-Drew said.
To start getting out this week, the Jaguars will need to do something Mularkey said they haven’t done enough this season. They will need to do consistently what they have done at times – put together extended drives, and particularly, make difference-making plays.
Those difference-making plays don’t have to be spectacular, Mularkey said, but they must be made. The Jaguars this season have 17 dropped “catchable” passes, and defensively, they have dropped at least seven interceptions.
“You’re not giving yourself a chance to compete for 60 minutes if we don’t make some of these plays that have been presented,” Mularkey said, adding that while he didn’t know why the Jaguars have had the number drops they have had offensively and defensively, “I trust that it will get fixed.”
The Jaguars will try to fix it in a place they have had comparatively little success in their history: the West Coast. The team has played there just eight times, losing six games. In an effort to counteract the effects of traveling the team flew to Oakland Friday rather than their typical routine of traveling a day before the game.
“The same philosophy, but a day earlier – that’s all it is,” Mularkey said.
But to hear players tell it, this week is less about philosophy or even overcoming history than about turning a good feeling and a solid week of preparation into a successful Sunday.
"Going into this game, we have a lot of confidence that if we play our ball we should be successful,” linebacker
And while many observers may be focused on the record, and the difficult results in the weeks leading into the bye, Jaguars guard Uche Nwarei said the feeling inside the locker room is far different – and that in a league in which every game is important, none for the Jaguars is more important than the one Sunday.
“I think the mindset now is one game at a time,” Nwaneri said. “Coming out of this bye we have an opportunity to kind of start fresh, refocus everything and put all the negative thoughts and negative things that have happened so far this season behind us. We have to go back to work and rebuild ourselves like how we did in the preseason.
“We had a productive preseason. We had a productive game against Minnesota (in the regular-season opener). The energy and the feeling – you could feel the energy and you could feel the confidence. Right now, everybody’s kind of going back to that: ‘Let’s go back and be confident in what we’ve been doing. Let’s not worry about, ‘Well, if this happens.’ Just go out and play ball and have fun.”