Finding success in Jacksonville critical for Jaguars squad looking to make playoff push
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Maybe coach Doug Marrone should put his team on a plane Saturday, fly in circles for a few hours, land back in Jacksonville and head to a hotel.
Switch it up. Treat the Jaguars’ home game against Cincinnati (3-4) on Sunday like it’s on the road.
It couldn’t hurt to try something different. Jacksonville (4-3) has lost both home games this season and nine of its last 10 at EverBank Field.
“It maybe sounds good to the people saying it, but let me waste your time for two hours and see how you like it,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said Wednesday. “You know what I’m saying? I think people are looking too much into it. I think we need to buckle down and understand that once we fix the little things that we can change, we’ll be all right.”
Jackson has heard other ways to fix Jacksonville’s hometown funk, including locking players inside the stadium for three days leading up to the game.
“That’s not going to work well, either,” he said.
The Jaguars are confident they don’t need such drastic measures to turn things around at home, where they’ve won once since Dec. 13, 2015. Getting it done could be vital to the team’s playoff push considering it plays two in a row and five of the next seven at EverBank.
“We’ve talked about it some in the locker room and different things,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “I think we just have to play better. I don’t think there is a rhyme or a reason to why we haven’t played as well at home. I think it’s just time we go out there and play well at home. That’s something that it should be — an advantage. It should be something that when you play at home, you feel good. You should win the majority of the games you play at home, and I think that’s a thing we need to work on.”
Jacksonville is an NFL-worst 9-29 at home (not including five London games) since 2011.
It’s been nearly 11 months since the Jaguars last won at EverBank. Equally troubling to coaches, players and fans: They haven’t won consecutive games in more than a year.
The Jags have tried and failed three times to back up huge wins this season. They hammered Houston on the road in the season opener and then got thumped at home by Tennessee. They trounced Baltimore in London and then tumbled at the New York Jets in overtime. They responded with a resounding victory at Pittsburgh and then stumbled the following week at home against the Los Angeles Rams.
Coming off a 27-0 victory at Indianapolis, the Jaguars are due for another slip-up. Or maybe having a bye week before the Bengals will shuffle the team’s up-and-down trend.
“You don’t want to go into January looking back at some of the games and having it where other teams control your destiny,” cornerback A.J. Bouye said. “You don’t want to look back and say, `We should have won this game, won that game.’ We’re already doing that coming out of the bye week.”
The Jaguars already point to losses against the Jets and Rams as games they let get away. Defensive end Calais Campbell even made that point clear when he said, “We’re better than our record for sure.”
“We have to become a consistent team, every game, every quarter, and keep playing our ball,” Campbell added. “It’s a focus and a mentality, and it’s coming.”
The Jaguars hope it happens Sunday, so they can turn their roller-coaster start into a much smoother ride and remain atop the AFC South.
“We have to find a way to bring our own energy, stay locked in, create momentum,” Bouye said. “You can’t control what’s happening on the outside or how many people showed to the game or the environment. All you can control is your preparation and your focus and just playing for each other.
“That’s one thing we’ve been doing at away games, so we have to find a way to do it at home.”