Jacksonville heads into Sunday’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals with everything to gain as it heads into the game winless, in search of a single spark of life this season.
For Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, the bright spot about his team is this: the leadership, focus and want-to of the team as a whole cannot be questioned. That’s been an emphasis for Meyer throughout his coaching career, making sure the locker room is sound.
“That’s always been number on the point emphasis, is first of all quality people and good unity, and guys sticking together. And they are, you know, I know, the first two games haven’t gone [the way we would want] - and some of these guys been part of this for a couple of years now -, and it’s like, I love our locker room”
The toughest part of heading up an NFL franchise is getting a handle on its locker room, and that’s one aspect of the team that Meyer feels he’s in control of, and it’s shaped well due to the players within the room itself.
There are challenges, Meyer said, to leading a group of players that have been accustomed to losing over the years, but he’s focused on this year, and this team, not the past.
“I’m worried about the locker room,” Meyer mentioned as his focus. “How’s our locker room going? Our locker room’s fantastic. How’s the chemistry on the team? Fantastic. How’s the relationship amongst the coaching staff? Fantastic. Just working your, you-know-what’s off. And that’s all I’m concerned about.”
At 0-2, the Jaguars will look to secure a victory, playing in its second-straight home matchup of the season. It hasn’t been pretty, and thus far this season the Jaguars have been outscored 60-34. The team has yet to appear in control for more than a quarter this year, and Meyer feels that team simply needs a spark to turn it around.
“And that spark, you know, that’s stepping in front of the ball, intercepting it. You know a spark is a great player making a great play,” said Meyer. “And how do you do that - it’s called competitive excellence, you do it in practice, you work it, and you work to put the players in those positions.”
The Jaguars have rarely been in the position to have a spark through its first two games. While, yes, the team did get one in the 102-yard kick return by Jamal Agnew near the end of the contest, that didn’t come until there were around 5 minutes remaining in the contest, and it was still a two-possession game following a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Too little, too late, and Jacksonville will need to try and dig deep as it looks to secure one against the Cardinals this week.
“When that happens, that’s when the rock breaks,” said Meyer.
One form of a spark might come this week if the team can muster up a turnover. Thus far this season, Jacksonville has yet to get the football back on defense, something that has become an emphasis within the building.
Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin might be the one most hungry for one after not being able to come up with an interception while having at least two great opportunities thus far this season.
“The main thing now is let’s get the turnovers and make the plays we need to make,” Griffin said after the game on Sunday. “We’ve got to do better with that. We’ve got to start getting the ball more in practice so that it can turn over into the game.”
Perhaps they’ll do just that on Sunday and provide a spark to a team that desperately needs one.