Jaguars locked in franchise's worst season to date
There's nothing the Jacksonville Jaguars can do to prevent the worst season in franchise history.
It's on coach Mike Mularkey's resume now.
It also could lead to his ouster, along with general manager Gene Smith.
The Jaguars (2-12) clinched their spot in history with a 24-3 loss at Miami on Sunday, the team's seventh defeat by 16 points or more this season.
Not even Jacksonville's inaugural team in 1995 - a group comprised of mostly rookies and street free agents - was overmatched as often. Coach Tom Coughlin's rag-tag bunch finished 4-12 back then, losing four games by at least 16 points. The 4-12 record is the worst in franchise history.
The Jaguars would have to win out to get that many victories in 2012. More likely is another lopsided loss Sunday when New England (10-4) brings the league's most prolific offense to town.
"No one thought we'd be in this situation with only having two wins this late in the year," linebacker Paul Posluszny said Monday. "I think we have too many guys who can make plays and do things the right way. But for whatever reason, we haven't been able to bring it all together to win."
The Jaguars have dropped 10 of their last 11 games, setting the stage for changes under first-year owner Shad Khan.
Smith, the team's architect the last four seasons, is likely gone. Jacksonville is 22-40 during Smith's tenure, failing to draft or acquire a single Pro Bowl player. He seemingly whiffed with defensive tackle Tyson Alualu in 2010 and quarterback Blaine Gabbert in 2011.
Former owner Wayne Weaver convinced Khan to keep Smith last year, and Khan allowed Smith to lead the search for a new coaching staff. So Smith was the one who suggested Mularkey and was the driving force behind decisions to keep several assistants from the previous regime.
All of them could be gone in two weeks.
"Like I said to the players, if you do everything the right way and you do it the best you can, you'll be successful here and wherever else that will be," Mularkey said. "That's the only thing I will go by or anybody else that's going to be in this building is going to go by. We're going to just do the best we can."
Mularkey and his players insist no one is quitting, although the Jaguars have been outscored 26-0 in the third quarter of the last three games and gashed on the ground in the second half of those losses. They allowed 139 yards rushing against the Dolphins after intermission, following poor performances against the New York Jets (116 yards in the second half) and Buffalo (158 yards in the second half).
"Who would (quit)? That's what losers do," said running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is questionable to return from a sprained foot this week. "We have a losing record, but there are no losers in here. We get paid to do our job and we're going to give everything we've got to do it. A loser is going to be the one who gives up and doesn't care. Effort has never been the case with this team."
A lack of talent is the real issue.
No doubt, injuries have taken a toll on Jacksonville. Between Jones-Drew, Gabbert, guard Will Rackley and linebackers Daryl Smith and Clint Session, the Jaguars have had their share of missed starts, but every team in the league deals with injuries. The good ones have enough depth to overcome those setbacks.
The Jaguars, though, seem a long way off.
Against the Dolphins, they had two touchdowns taken off the scoreboard and got stopped three times on fourth down. They finished with 10 penalties, none more costly than an illegal substitution called against offensive tackle Guy Whimper that nullified a TD and proved to be the catalyst in the latest one-sided affair.
"This year didn't go the way anyone wanted, but we'd like to build on the coaches and players that are here," Posluszny said. "(Changing coaches), that's not the winning formula. You look at winning organizations throughout the league and they don't go through things like that. Three head coaches in three years would not be a positive thing."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.