Jaguars head to West Coast for consecutive games
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
Maurice Jones-Drew doesn't need to hear the numbers. He's painfully aware of them.
The Jacksonville Jaguars running back in winless in four trips to the West Coast, including 0-2 in the Bay Area. And his stats aren't pretty, either.
Jones-Drew has 146 yards rushing on 41 carries and no touchdowns in games at Seattle (2009), San Francisco (2009), San Diego (2010) and Oakland (2012).
''Obviously we hope those things change,'' said Jones-Drew, who attended De La Salle high school in Concord, Calif., and still has a home in nearby Blackhawk. ''But it has been a rough West Coast for me, so we'll see how those things go.''
Jones-Drew has this going for him: his next trip will be like none of the others.
The Jaguars (0-1) are staying in northern California between games against Oakland (0-1) and Seattle (1-0), a nine-day trip that first-year coach Gus Bradley hopes will be a bonding experience for his young and somewhat inexperienced team. Maybe dozens of team meals, several bus rides, two cross-country flights and a week of practices and meetings at San Jose State University could provide the kind of team-building exercises that Bradley couldn't create in training camp or at home.
The Jaguars didn't ask the NFL to schedule their West Coast trips on consecutive weeks. But Bradley embraced it - and he wants his players to do the same.
''I think the mentality of our team is we'll go anywhere, anytime to compete,'' Bradley said. ''If we have to change time zones, we'll do that. If it's to London, we'll do that. Any opportunity we've got, and I'd rather have our players concentrating on that than the distance and the time zone changes.''
The Pacific time zone hasn't provided many good memories for the Jaguars over the years. Jacksonville is 2-7 all time on the West Coast. And the four-game losing streak has been mostly one-sided, with the Jaguars getting outscored 125-39 in those games.
The Jags were steamrolled 61-3 in trips to Seattle and San Francisco in 2009, embarrassing losses that still haunt the few players who remain four years later.
The trip to Seattle was one to forget. Defensive end Quentin Groves caused a three-car accident on his way to the airport, missed the charter flight and got fined. Leading receiver Mike Sims-Walker missed curfew before the game, got benched and fined.
Things really bottomed out when the Jaguars took the field.
The Seahawks picked apart Jacksonville's secondary, sacked David Garrard five times and handed the Jaguars their most lopsided loss (41-0) in coach Jack Del Rio's tenure.
Jones-Drew vented his frustration three days later, questioning play-calling, personnel decisions and the team's offensive identity.
Jones-Drew's last game out West was even worse. He injured his left foot on the first play of last year's 26-23 loss at Oakland and eventually needed season-ending surgery.
''It hasn't been a good homecoming, period,'' said Jones-Drew, who already has purchased 100 tickets for friends and family members to attend the game.
Maybe things will turn around Sunday.
The Jaguars certainly can't play worse than they did last week, when they struggled to find any offensive rhythm in a 28-2 loss to Kansas City.
Jacksonville allowed six sacks, dropped five passes and moved the chains just five times in 19 tries on third down. The team set a franchise record with 11 punts and didn't cross the 50-yard line until midway through the fourth quarter.
''Obviously we have a lot of things we need to focus on and correct here, and that's what we'll do,'' Jones-Drew said. ''It's football. It's going to be 120 yards, 53 yards spread apart, and at the end of the day, you're going to have to make plays, so that's what we have to focus on doing.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org