Rebuilding Jaguars avoid talk about winning

No doubt, the Jacksonville Jaguars want to win.

They just don’t want to focus on it, talk about it or really

even think about it.

So you won’t hear general manager Dave Caldwell, coach Gus

Bradley or many of their players mention that ultimate goal.

Instead, the main theme in Jacksonville is getting better. It’s the

team motto these days, a catch phrase that Bradley brought with him

from Seattle and one he hopes will narrow each player’s focus

during what could be a lengthy rebuild.

”I really believe in the process,” Bradley said. ”I think

when you look ahead, you forget about enjoying the process. We want

to compete, have our guys go hard, get better at fundamentals and

techniques, but also enjoy it. And when you look ahead, sometimes

you miss those things.

”If we can get a guy to get to his highest level, then we win.

That’s how we define winning, that’s how we talk about

winning.”

The Jaguars are coming off the worst season in franchise

history, a 2-14 debacle that got general manager Gene Smith and

coach Mike Mularkey fired and started the franchise’s third

overhaul in the last five seasons.

This one is going to be a complete renovation.

And it might not yield immediate improvement on the field or in

the standings, something Bradley can handle – at least for now.

”His mindset is for everybody to go out there and give what

they have and live with the results,” tight end Marcedes Lewis

said. ”He’s instilled in us that we don’t have to worry about

expectations; that kind of thing will just take care of itself. I

think that creates an environment which allows us to be able to

just go out there and give it all we’ve got, and live with the

results. And if it’s good enough, it’s good enough.”

With winning off the Jaguars’ radar, here are five things to

watch in 2013:

GABBERT’S LAST GO: The biggest thing Jacksonville needs to get

out of this season is clarity at quarterback. Bradley named Gabbert

the starter, picking him over Chad Henne and giving the former

first-round draft pick a chance to prove he can be a franchise QB.

If Gabbert shows significant progress, then the Jaguars could be

set under center for years. If not, there’s little doubt Caldwell

and Bradley will move on and draft their guy in 2014. Caldwell and

Bradley believe Gabbert played in less-than-ideal circumstances his

first two years and will benefit from drafting right tackle Luke

Joeckel with the second overall pick, getting running Maurice

Jones-Drew back from a foot injury and having more experienced

receivers in Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon.

MJD HEALTHY, HUNGRY: Jones-Drew is trying to make a comeback and

earn another contract. The NFL’s leading rusher in 2011 sustained a

Lisfranc injury to his left foot last October and missed the final

10 games of the season. He had surgery in December, which delayed

his rehab and his return. He was cleared to practice just days

before training camp and has shown no ill effects from the injury.

Jones-Drew is eager to prove he can return to form, even in a new

offense that features a zone blocking scheme. If the 28-year-old

back stays healthy, he could land another lucrative contract in

Jacksonville or elsewhere.

DEFENSIVE DOUBTS: The Jaguars might be punchless at the point of

attack – again. Bradley’s retooled defense features press coverage

designed to disrupt timing and routes, but it’s unlikely to find

much success if the unit doesn’t generate pressure on opposing

quarterbacks. Jacksonville has been the least-disruptive defense

the last five seasons, averaging a paltry 24 sacks. Although free

agents Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks and veteran Jason Babin

(claimed off waivers last November) are upgrades, the Jags have yet

to show they can apply the kind of consistent pressure needed in a

passing league.

SHORTS SHOWS UP: Shorts has been the team’s best receiver

throughout the offseason and in training camp. The Jaguars would

love to see it continue into the regular season. With Blackmon

suspended the first four games for violating the league’s

substance-abuse policy, Shorts will be asked to carry the load

early, a role he welcomes. Shorts caught 55 passes for 979 yards

and seven touchdowns last season – 47 receptions for 784 yards and

five scores over his final nine games – and showed glimpses of

being a go-to guy.

FRANCHISE’S FUTURE: Despite continued speculation the Jaguars

will move to Los Angeles or London, billionaire owner Shad Khan has

made it clear he has no plans to relocate the small-market

franchise. Not only has he already spent about $10 million in

facility upgrades, he’s committed millions more in local business

ventures and is helping commission a $60 million scoreboard that

will be the largest in the NFL. As for those four home games in

London, which begin this season, they’re part of Khan’s plan to

increase the team’s international profile and reach an untapped

market.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org