Del Rio searches for Jags' motivation

The Jaguars didn't play solid football when they were in the playoff race. Now that they are all but out of it, will they play any better?

The Jaguars didn't play very well this year when they were playing for a playoff berth.

Now the question is whether they'll play any better now that they're playing only for pride.

The 24-14 loss to the Titans dropped them to 4-6 and all but dashed their playoff hopes. They're not mathematically eliminated, but they don't have a realistic chance. Even coach Jack Del Rio admitted after the game that they only have a "very remote possibility" of making the playoffs.

So the task for Del Rio is to keep the team motivated for their final six games and avoid a complete collapse when they don't have the playoff carrot in front of them.

Del Rio, though, didn't seem worried that the Jaguars will go through the motions and tank the rest of the season even though this is the first time since his initial season that the Jaguars are out of the playoff race with six games left. In his first year, the team started out 1-7, but finished 4-4 in the second half.

"I don't really have a concern about that. These are guys who've been fighting all year," Del Rio said. "I think they'll continue to fight. I'm more concerned with us being real crisp, with us playing really good football down the stretch. We get six more opportunities that we know we get and we need to play good football. We're going to grind at it, keep working at it. There are things that we want to accomplish here. We get our next opportunity Sunday against the Vikings.

"Our guys are professionals. The coaches and players we're going to continue to do our jobs to the best of our ability, being professional about it. We all recognize it's a very competitive game. We want to be at our very best at all times. We want to finish strong, play good football, have fun doing it. We're going to focus on execution and let it rip."

He also didn't think effort would be a problem.

"I think the guys fought hard all night. I don't think there's any question about that," Del Rio said. "This football team has fought hard all year. We need to make plays. We're just weren't able to overcome some of the negative inertia that took place in the second half," he said.

When Del Rio was asked what the goal is for the rest of the year, he said, "The goal is to just play good football Sunday, win a game. Right now come out and compete. Be pros. Get ready to play this football game and win a game. Very simple."
Making the task even tougher is the fact that five of their six remaining foes - starting with Minnesota Sunday - are still in the playoff race. Only Houston, which is 3-7, has a worse record than the Jaguars do.

Besides the 5-5 Vikings, they play two other NFC Central teams sporting 5-5 records, at Chicago and Green Bay at home. The three of them are in a three-way tie for first place so they've got a lot of motivation to try to win the division title.

The Jaguars also play 6-4 Indianapolis, a division foe they already beaten this year, and 6-4 Baltimore, which is a game off the lead in the AFC North.

If the Jaguars at least split their final six games, they'll finish 7-9, which sounds a lot better than the 6-10 finish they'd have if they go 2-4 in their final four games.

NOTES

  • QB David Garrard has an 83.4 quarterback rating with six touchdown passes and six interceptions. He's ranked 19th in the NFL in quarterback rating.

  • RB Fred Taylor's shot of gaining a thousand yards at age 32 is now a long shot. He has only 416 yards in 115 carries and needs to average almost 100 yards a game in the final six games to make it.

  • RB Maurice Drew leads the Jaguars in rushing with 499 yards in 115 carries this season.

  • WR Matt Jones sat out the Tennessee game with a thigh injury but still leads the Jaguars in receptions with 50.

  • K Josh Scobee didn't have a field goal attempt against Tennessee and made 15 of 17 attempts in the first eight games.


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