JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are reeling.
Back-to-back blowout losses to Kansas City and Dallas have them at 3-3, which is not where anyone on the roster expected the team to be six games into the season. But, as Bill Parcells famously said, you are what your record says you are -- and right now the Jaguars are not very good.
Over the past two games, the supposed elite defense has given up 63 points, and the offense has managed three touchdowns and turned the ball over seven times. And on special teams, the Jaguars forgot how many players are allowed on the field.
So it's a mess, and coach Doug Marrone isn't denying it. He's trying to fix it.
"A lot of times people will want to [say], 'Is it this person [who is at fault]?' If it was just as simple as this or this or this, you know, it would be easy," Marrone said. "We would make those decisions and move on. But when you're playing poorly as a team or coaching poorly, you have to take a good look at yourself."
Why are the Jaguars -- three weeks ago a Super Bowl contender -- performing like one of the worst teams in the league? Like Marrone said, it's not just one thing ...
Injuries, injuries, injuries
The offense has five starters or key players on injured reserve: receiver Marqise Lee, left tackles Cam Robinson and Josh Wells, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Corey Grant. Return man Jaydon Mickens was placed on IR on Monday.
Three current starters on the offensive line are dealing with chronic injuries: center Brandon Linder (knee), right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), and left guard Andrew Norwell (foot). Plus, the injuries to Robinson and Wells have forced the team to start Josh Walker at left tackle. He had not played tackle until the preseason finale against Atlanta.
But the biggest injury is the hamstring strain that has limited running back Leonard Fournette to playing in the first half of just two games. He is the centerpiece of the Jaguars' offense and the only player on that side of the ball who scares opposing defenses.
Though quarterback Blake Bortles played well against New England and the Jets without Fournette in the lineup, the offense has really struggled the past two weeks with 166 rushing yards (56 by Bortles) and just five red zone trips (none against Dallas).
"It's easy to say or easy to stand up here and talk about the woe-is-me aspect of injuries," Marrone said. "... But at the same time, there has to be some sort of rally ... truly wanting to go out there and wanting to perform with the players that are on the field and make something happen than to say, 'Well, we're in trouble because of this,' or, 'We're in trouble because of that.'
"Once you start thinking like that, you're never going to be able to fight your way out of it. And right now we're trying to fight our way."
The potential fix: What can you do? Guys get hurt. It just happens to all be on the same side of the ball.
It's hard to know which Bortles is going to show up each week. Will it be the guy who threw for 764 yards and six touchdowns with one interception in blowout victories against the Patriots and Jets? Or will it be the guy who committed a career-high five turnovers in a blowout loss to the Chiefs?
He had stretches last season when he was very good (the playoffs, for example) but he has yet to string two good games together this season. Part of that is because of the injuries to the offensive line. Not having Fournette doesn't help, either. Nor does the fact that there's no edge playmaker who worries defenses or someone who can go up and get a 50-50 ball.
Bortles is tied for the league lead with eight interceptions and ranks 27th in passer rating, but is completing a career-high 61.2 percent of his passes.
The potential fix: The Jaguars are not benching Bortles for Cody Kessler. Bortles needs to be smarter with this throws -- the throw into double coverage against Dallas that was intercepted was a terrible decision -- and that should cut down on the turnovers. Getting Fournette back will help, too.
The injuries to Seferian-Jenkins and Paul hurt, but the Jaguars' healthy pass-catchers have been inconsistent. This passing game thrives on dump-offs and crossing routes, but when teams have taken away the crossing routes (like Kansas City and Dallas) there hasn't been much success elsewhere.
It's unrealistic to expect anyone to be open on every play, but Jaguars receivers seem to struggle against man coverage. There were numerous plays against the Chiefs and Cowboys when the pass protection held up, but none of Bortles' targets had any separation. That led to a scramble, a sack, an incompletion, a bad throw or a turnover.
The potential fix: Impact players aren't sitting at home waiting for a team to call, so offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will have to continue to try to scheme receivers open, and the receivers are going to have to make plays when they're presented.
Miscommunication on defense
Several players said in the locker room Sunday that there were communication issues on defense, especially in the secondary when the Jaguars were in zone coverage.
"I mean, we can obviously line up and play man-to-man coverage," safety Tashaun Gipson said. "That's not what [defensive coordinator] coach [Todd] Wash called. Miscommunication's not from the playcalling. We know the plays. It's just going out there and executing."
The potential fix: Marrone worries about information overload and said the plan this week is to adjust the amount of things they're asking the players to do.
No big plays from defense
What made the Jaguars' defense so dominant in 2017 was pressure and turnovers. They were second in the league in turnovers (33), sacks (55) and pressure rate (the percentage of dropbacks in which a QB was sacked, under duress or hit). They're third in pressure rate this season, but have forced just five turnovers (second-fewest in the NFL) and have 14 sacks after taking Dak Prescott down three times Sunday.
The Jaguars defense also scored seven touchdowns last season, and only two defenses have scored more defensive TDs in a single season in the past decade -- New Orleans scored eight in 2009, and Chicago had nine in 2012. This season the Jaguars have scored just one (linebacker Myles Jack's interception return in the season opener).
The potential fix: The Jaguars generally don't blitz a lot (just 21 percent of dropbacks this season), but they have been effective with it at times. There's a higher risk of giving up a big play (and mobile quarterbacks have really hurt the Jaguars), but changing things up a bit could create a couple turnovers.
Not much from the free agents
The Jaguars hit the jackpot with their 2017 free agents (Campbell and A.J. Bouye were All-Pros and Pro Bowlers), but the 2018 class has given the team virtually nothing.
Norwell has not even been close to the dominant player the Jaguars believed they were getting. He has already given up at least two sacks and has been average at best. That's not what the Jaguars want for the guaranteed $30 million they gave him.
Moncrief, who signed a one-year, prove-it deal worth $9.6 million guaranteed, has 18 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns -- an average of three catches and 41.5 yards per game.
Safety Cody Davis has helped on special teams, but Hayden, Seferian-Jenkins and Paul have been hampered by injuries.
The potential fix: Moncrief and Norwell need to raise their level of play significantly.
Saturday: Bortles can't carry Jags
Jeff Saturday explains why the Jaguars got blown out by the Cowboys.
Not much from the draft picks
The Jaguars' approach to the 2018 draft can be viewed as arrogant: We don't need any more help to win this season, but need to be ready for 2019 and beyond. Executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell selected defensive end Taven Bryan to replace Campbell or defensive tackle Malik Jackson, Chark to replace Moncrief, safety Ronnie Harrison to replace Barry Church, and offensive tackle Will Richardson to replace Jermey Parnell.
The only draft picks making any kind of significant contribution are Harrison, who has played 111 snaps and has 14 tackles in the defense's big nickel formation, and Chark, who has four catches for 87 yards and plays on special teams. Richardson has been inactive every week.
The potential fix: Not much you can do here. It's clear Richardson isn't ready to help on a banged-up offensive line and the Jaguars have to hope Chark makes more progress.