The unraveling of the Jacksonville Jaguars continued past the final whistle of Sunday's 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans in a key AFC South Division game at TIAA Bank Field.
It continued into the locker room where the frustrations boiled over, resulting in some heated discussions and accusations being hurled among players.
Just as the doors were opened to allow media access to the locker room, there was loud shouting. Team leader Calais Campbell was detected having to refrain emotionally-charged defensive end Yannick Ngakoue from fellow teammates.
It wasn't the first time that Campbell had wrapped his powerful arms around Ngakoue. It also happened during a post-practice incident during training camp when Ngakoue and teammate Dante Fowler got into a heated discussion on the practice field and had to be separated.
No one wanted to offer any information on what occurred Sunday before the media came into the room. What is known however, is that the frustrations and anger that has been building since the loss at Kansas City two weeks ago has manifested into some deep concerns by players, coaches and team officials.
Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said that Campbell had called for a players-only meeting.
"Hopefully guys will speak up and not be silent, hopefully talk about some issues that they feel are bothering them," Jackson said when asked if he thought such a meeting would help.
"There was a players' only meeting [Monday] but that's not out of the norm," head coach Doug Marrone said Monday when he met with the media. "It's everyone trying to find what their role is, being together and pulling in the same direction. And that's what I expect from this team. We've done that before, there's a lot of frustration and the faster you can get everyone back on the same page, especially with a day off tomorrow for the players, we want to get everyone in the same mindset, the same mind-frame. That was my goal today."
The Jaguars have endured a painful three-week stretch. It started two weeks ago with the matchup between the NFL's top-ranked offense (Kansas City) and the league's No. 1 ranked defense (Jacksonville). The game was basically over by halftime as the Chiefs jumped out to a 20-0 lead and coasted home with a 30-14 win.
Many thought the Jaguars would bounce back the following week at Dallas where the Cowboys were going through their own struggles, especially on offense. But they looked just as effective as the Chiefs did the week before, racing to a 24-0 halftime advantage and then piling on for a 40-7 lopsided win.
That left the Jaguars with a 3-3 record but still tied for first place with Tennessee and Houston. Knowing the Titans had to play the Los Angeles Chargers and would likely lose (they did albeit by just one point), that would leave the winner of the Texans-Jaguars game alone in first place in the AFC South. That spot now belongs to the Texans.
Jackson said there is still hope, that the locker room is not divided and is certainly not giving up.
"Yeah, people are strained right now," he said. "This is a business about producing, it's a business about winning and we're not producing or winning right now. But this locker room is not going to tear apart for a few losses. Hell, we went 3 and 13 our first year here ."
The Jaguars will now prepare for this week's annual excursion to London where they'll meet the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
For the first time in his five years with the Jaguars, quarterback Blake Bortles was replaced for ineffective play. Bortles was 6-of-12 for 61 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, but two costly lost fumbles. The second one came on the first series of the second half and when Houston recovered on the Jaguars 12-yard line and scored two plays later, Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone decided it was time for a change. He inserted backup Cody Kessler on the next possession and the third-year veteran finished the game.
"You could take all eleven out, but you don't have enough people to put in," Marrone reasoned. "So, the thought process was, 'Hey, listen. I'm going to take the quarterback out. It's not like he played worse than anyone else out there.' He did have the two fumbles. At the same time, I just literally did it to try to get a damn spark from this football team, to put everyone on notice that they have to focus and they have to go out there and play better. At points in the second half, they did that.
"That's not fair to the quarterback, but that's the way this business is, so really when we talk about it, and the questions are going to be, 'Who is your starting quarterback next week?' The focus will be on that, but for me, it's on everyone."
Marrone said that he would be talking to both Bortles and Kessler and that on Tuesday he would announce his starter against the Eagles.
--LB Donald Payne suffered a knee injury in the Houston game and will be on a week-to-week basis but is not likely to play this week in London.
--QB Cody Kessler replaced Blake Bortles early in the second half of Sunday's game against Houston. Kessler was sacked four times on 34 passing attempts and threw one interception (a short throw that went off T.J. Yeldon's hands).
--CB Tyler Patmon was forced out of last Sunday's game with a neck strain in the second quarter and did not return. The team is still waiting to get back test results on his injury to determine his status.
--RB Leonard Fournette did not practice with the team last week and will likely rest his injured hamstring this week against Philadelphia in London and the following week when the Jaguars have their bye week.
--TE James O'Shaughnessy may return to practice this week and will likely make the trip to London but his playing status won't be determined until later in the week.
--QB Blake Bortles led the Jaguars in rushing on Sunday with 6 carries for 30 yards. Bortles had the Jaguars' only run of the day that went for more than six yards when he scrambled for a 10-yard pickup.