Perhaps one of the lost story lines of the season thus far for the Jaguars (1-13), who are coming off the heels of a 13th-straight loss, is how close the team continues to appear to be. No matter what, they have fought for the right to play in the game next to one another, not pointing fingers even when many would not fault them otherwise.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone says that while the team is obviously frustrated, and perhaps embarrassed by all the losing, they’ve nevertheless stuck together. The players on the team want to continue getting better, working towards the common goal of winning.
“Like I said before, this team is pulling for each other,” Marrone said on Monday. “I think they respect one another. I think that they communicate well with each other.
“Like I said before, there’s no finger pointing, there’s no issues, nothing going on on the practice field, no jabbing back and forth, no holding their heads down low. They’re fighting their ass off, along with the coaches and that’s something that is a credit to them.”
While there has been plenty of speculation recently regarding what the Jaguars will do with the No. 1-overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the players and coaches do not think in those terms. While fans may want the team to lose, with, in their minds, good reason, the players and coaches want to do one thing and one thing alone: win.
Asked about balancing the final two games with the idea that winning either one could hurt the team in the long run, Marrone didn’t skip a beat and gave a pointed, and understandable reply.
“I understand I guess from a standpoint of I was young growing up and had a favorite team and was excited to see where they were going to pick,” he said. “So, it’s not something that I don’t look back and I understand, but Jesus, we’re trying to win.”
Ultimately, that is what any respectable coach would say in these situations, they know nothing other than trying to win, to compete at the highest level, that’s what they’re paid for. When asked whether or not he has seen a coach asked by an owner or upper management to lose games, Marrone was much shorter with his response.
“I wouldn’t be able to do that. I couldn’t do it. I just wouldn’t. I’ve never done that with anything in my life. I had trouble letting my kids win when they were little. And I’ve never heard of it, no.”
No, they wouldn’t be able to do it, and with this year’s team, the lack of locker room distractions and finger pointing and overall dysfunction has been refreshing, even while they’ve encountered such a losing streak.
Last week, Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack opined on the year, and how desperately he, and the rest of his teammates, want a win.
“At the end of the day, the NFL doesn’t pay losers, they pay winners,” Jack said frankly.
“You win, you get rewarded. You lose, it gets kind of ugly. So, from our perspective, we’re like, ‘No, we’re not going out there tanking.’ If anybody’s thinking that, we’re not doing that. I promise you. If it was up to me, we’d be 16-0 right now, but that’s just how it goes. We’re not trying to tank, so [I’ll] throw that out there.”
The Jaguars will have an opportunity to get 1-2 more wins over the last two weeks of the season against the Chicago Bears at home and away, against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17. Regardless, while the fan perspective and the players, coaches perspective might be different, the team in the locker room sticking together ought to be pointed out, and that’s a credit to this year’s coaching staff.