By: Hays Carlyon
I’ve covered the Jaguars for seven years. I sure as hell don’t know what a winning culture in the NFL looks like.
They’ve been good one of those years in 2017.
I’m not alone.
Most of the people working at TIAA Bank Field don’t know what a winning culture looks like.
In the last 20 years, the Jaguars have posted three seasons of 10-or-more wins. They’ve endured 11 seasons of double-digit losses in that time frame.
Jaguars first-year quarterback Nick Foles went big picture on Wednesday at his weekly press conference coming off Sunday’s loss at Indianapolis that dropped the team to 4-6.
He talked about building culture.
“We’re in that tough time,” Foles said. “This is really where you get tested and this is where you can either go this way or that way, which one do you want to choose? It’s really just positivity or negativity, and that’s where we’re at right now. This is where your culture’s built. This is where you establish so many things in these trials, because it’s not easy.”
That turned off a portion of the fan base.
I get it. It’s Week 12. The Jaguars will need a minor miracle to make the playoffs. They’ve been outscored 59-16 the last two games and now head to Tennessee on Sunday where they haven’t won in their last five trips.
Things are bleak and it’s tough to hear the quarterback talk about building culture in November.
But, is he wrong?
A positive culture does need to be built here. Why wait until the off-season program begins in April to begin? Start now. The vast majority of the starters are returning next year, including Foles.
Culture is player driven anyway. Yes, there certainly could be changes in the front office or coaching staff, but ultimately, it’s the locker room that dictates culture. The players either choose to listen, work together and support each other or they don’t.
Sunday’s loss at Indianapolis was disappointing. Foles didn’t play well in his first game since Sept. 8, although the inability to stop the run is what doomed the Jaguars.
We all are excited about rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who went 4-4 with Foles recovering from a broken collarbone suffered in the opener.
But, Foles needs a chance to show what he can do over several weeks.
And if he wants to try and improve the culture here, let him.
He led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl triumph two years ago.
He’s seen what it takes.
“We’re figuring out who we are as a culture, and this is one of those things,” Foles said. “Hopefully when we’re at the end of the journey we look back and we’re like, ‘Alright, it was all worth it to go through those trials, those tough times. But man, when we’re in them, they suck.’ But that’s where we’re at right now.
“We have to keep grinding. We have to keep believing in each other. We have to keep honing in on this game plan and we have to go out there ultimately and execute and play with each other. We have to play for one another. We have to play well on all sides of the ball and that’s really how you win games in this league.”
The 30-year-old Foles clearly has a defined approach in how to try and lead a team.
“You always do everything with a sense of urgency,” Foles said. “Not pressing means don’t freak out.
I’ll let everyone else freak out, I’m not going to freak out. I’m going to continue to come to work.
I’m going to continue to believe in my teammates.”
Will it work? Probably not.
My question is simple.
What else do you have?
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)