JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Everyone within the Jaguars organization knew the early part of the schedule was going to be difficult, with the first three games coming in an 11-day span.
It got a lot harder once the final seconds ticked off in Sunday’s 13-12 loss at Houston, followed on Monday by reports that All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey is requesting a trade.
The Jaguars (0-2) have the shortest work week possible in the NFL with Thursday’s game against Tennessee (1-1) at TIAA Bank Field (8:20, NFL Network) looming. And it hasn’t been the Jags’ best night to work: they’re 4-7 on Thursday nights and have lost their last two by combined scores of 66-31 — both to the Titans.
The good news is the Jags are playing at home. They’ve won their last three home Thursday night games, two against the Titans.
The bad news is that since those two Thursday night victories over Tennessee, in 2014 and 2015, the Jaguars are 1-6 against the Titans and have lost the last four meetings.
Now, factor these into the process: the Jaguars have to put an intense, emotion-filled loss to the Texans behind them, deal with the Ramsey distraction and somehow get ready for Tennessee in three days.
Sunday’s loss included the sideline fracas between Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and Ramsey, who was angry Marrone didn’t ask for a review on a catch by DeAndre Hopkins; a spirited comeback led by rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who accounted for 144 yards of offense in the fourth quarter; and Leonard Fournette getting stopped inches of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt after Minshew hit D.J. Chark with a 4-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left.
The Jaguars did all that with five starters out, with a rookie quarterback making his first start, on the road.
“I thought the guys gave great effort,” Marrone said on Monday. “I thought we had a ton of intensity about us. We talked about it before the game and obviously it showed on the field. We came up short.”
Marrone, who spoke with the media before news broke of Ramsey’s trade request, said Ramsey would not face any team sanctions for the flare-up.
“It’s a high-intensity profession,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotion that goes on.”
Marrone said the positives from the game were the defense, which held the Texans to 263 yards of offense without end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback A.J. Bouye, Minshew’s play in the fourth quarter and a standout performance from punter Logan Cooke (six kicks for a 48.0 average and four dropped inside the 20).
He said the offensive line didn’t have one of their better games.
“I wish we could have done a better job up front and those guys will tell you the same thing,” Marrone said.