JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Following the worst offensive performance in franchise history, the Jacksonville Jaguars are back where the spent much of last season.
Last in the league in total yards.
The punchless Jaguars (0-2) were downright awful in a 27-7 loss to AFC South rival Houston on Sunday, punting nine times in 12 possessions and failing to convert a single third down.
Jacksonville finished with 117 total yards, breaking the previous mark (126) set against the Texans in 2004.
"I'm not going to let the one game dictate and really define us as who we are," coach Mike Mularkey said Monday. "I told them that no matter how you feel, there's a lot of good still going on just like we felt when we came into the season. I still feel that way. I think they do, too. I'm hoping that one game doesn't curb their mind like it does some of yours. I'm going to do my best to make sure it doesn't."
The Jaguars did get some positive news Monday.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is expected to play Sunday at Indianapolis after leaving the game with a glute injury.
Tests Monday revealed no significant damage, though Mularkey said Gabbert probably will be limited in practice Wednesday.
Gabbert completed 7 of 19 passes for 53 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked three times. He injured his glute in the first half, but played into the fourth quarter before giving way to Chad Henne.
"I think it's going to be something that's going to get better each day," Mularkey said. "He'll be stiff and he will loosen up each day."
Jacksonville might want to loosen up the offense, too.
Sure, the Jaguars were facing one of the league's best defenses. And while they played without two starting offensive linemen, they know 117 total yards isn't going to get it done.
Players and coaches said they can turn things around with a win against the Colts.
"We're not the first NFL team to start 0-2," guard Uche Nwaneri said. "We've got to get back to work to refocus ourselves and put this behind us. But obviously we're not happy with this, but there's nothing we can do about that now."
The Jaguars spent the entire offseason talking about Gabbert's improvement, the addition of receivers Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon, and how close the team was to making a playoff run. General manager Gene Smith and his staff felt so good about their personnel that they decided to draft punter Bryan Anger in the third round — a questionable pick for a rebuilding team that had missed the playoffs the past four years.
Five months and two losses later, the 2012 Jaguars don't seem to be a whole lot better than the 2011 version.
Defense and special teams blew a 23-20 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the opener at Minnesota, and then offense hardly showed up in Week 2. Jacksonville ran just 38 plays and held the ball for less than 17 minutes.
"I think our guys will take it personal what took place last week," Mularkey said. "I do. I think they will respond in positive ways. They all see it. It's a good football team, and you have to overcome yourself, especially offensively like we did. You're going to have a tough time against anybody, let alone a good football team."
The Jaguars could get a few key players back against the Colts.
Although Mularkey said does not expect linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) to play Sunday, he said running back Rashad Jennings (knee), right tackle Cam Bradfield (ankle) and guard Eben Britton (ankle) have a chance to return after sitting out Sunday's game.
Regardless, Mularkey reiterated that he's eager to see how his players respond after another trying loss.
"Sometimes something that's good comes from these kinds of games," he said. "We're going to take the good from it. We've got a lot to learn from that game. ... I'm anxious to see how we respond to really taking a good punch from a good opponent and seeing how we respond will be important.
"We've got to play better. No question about that. I think we will. A tough lesson learned and we'll see how we respond."