JACKSONVILLE – Doug Pederson understands the problem. Players do too.
The Jaguars have lost four straight games: close losses, with crucial mistakes at crucial moments. And if last week was similar to the previous three, the Jaguars head coach said the solution is to keep working.
“It’s frustrating,” Pederson said Monday, a day after the Jaguars’ 23-17 loss to the New York Giants at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. “The thing is that the boys know. They have played a lot of football. They understand the mistakes that are made.”
“It’s up to us as coaches to make sure that one, they understand; and two, that we help fix it and help them correct and give them the answers; that’s up to the coaches. Players have to execute the game plan and know their assignments. … that part is in them, that’s why it’s a two-way street.
“But these mistakes have prevented us from winning these close games.”
The Jaguars, coming off back-to-back wins to move to 2-1 and first place in the AFC South, have lost their last four games in frustrating fashion. All of the losses have been by one score or less, decided in the last minute, and they remain in third place in the South behind the Tennessee Titans (4-2) and the Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1).
“It all comes down to the fourth quarter and it’s just over,” cornerback Tyson Campbell said. “We’re always there. We just have to push that limit and keep fighting. Eventually, it’s going to fall off us. It’s just about making smart plays and not shooting yourself in the foot.”
The Jaguars have led or been tied in the second half in four of five losses this season. They have allowed the go-ahead touchdown in the final six minutes in the past three weeks, with the Giants rallying from a 17-13 fourth-quarter deficit on Sunday.
“We just have to learn how to finish,” Pederson said. “We talk about finishing a play in practice or a period in practice and then finishing a practice. It’s the same with a game. You have to learn how to finish a play, then finish a quarter, a half and finally the game.
“We will continue to work on it and we will continue to push and create opportunities for ourselves.”
Rookie center Luke Fortner said Monday that confidence “absolutely” remains high.
“Obviously it’s frustrating and it’s something you have to look inside yourself and focus on in practice,” Fortner said. “It’s about continuing to harp on the details and lock down the preparation, and make sure that what comes out on Sunday is the finished product.
“A lot of people, when the going gets tough, they start pointing fingers or they start to crack. That’s the last thing they can do. The dam is going to fall. Keep pushing, keep pushing. It’ll all work out.”
Pederson spoke Monday about quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who completed 22 of 43 passes for 310 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions on Sunday. Lawrence, who committed seven turnovers in Week 4-5, hasn’t committed one since.
The Jaguars had a season-high 452 yards Sunday with six drives of 60 or more yards. Their final drive ended when wide receiver Christian Kirk was stopped at the Giants’ one-yard line after a 16-yard pass from Lawrence, who had led the Jaguars from their 25 in the final minute.
“The last two weeks he’s done a good job leading the football team,” Pederson said. “He played tough from a physical standpoint [Sunday]. He made some shots, staying upright. He’s on the right track. We just have to keep him going in the right direction, keep him focused.”
“We can’t get discouraged with where we are. We’re still there with everything that’s going on. We just have to find a way to get a win.”