Over the last few weeks, the word culture has been thrown around a lot at TIAA Bank Field. And on Tuesday, differing views of what defines a team's culture began to reveal themselves.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) are in their toughest slump of the season as a result of a three-game losing streak, a period which the Jaguars have lost to every one of its AFC South rivals by 20 or more points. Quarterback Nick Foles has stressed the importance in recent weeks of remaining positive and building a culture despite the team's recent skid, while head coach Doug Marrone had a different message during his Tuesday press conference.
“There’s a lot of buzzwords, and everyone has different definitions of it," Marrone said when asked about Foles' comments on culture in the past weeks. "I always look at it in this profession [as] winning. If you’re winning, you have a pretty good culture. If you’re losing, then either you don’t have a good culture or you’re not good enough [at] putting the players in the best position or you don’t have talent. I mean, really, that’s kind of how I look at it.”
A few hours later, Foles once again emphasized the importance of building the Jaguars' culture through this tough period. For the team to turn around its fortunes and find long-term success, it has to pull together and learn from today's trials, he said.
"The big thing is this is where you find out what culture you have. A great culture is a culture that can go through adversity and stick together, and not point fingers and not give up," Foles said. "A bad culture is a culture that when you’re out of it, or things aren’t going well, ‘You know what, this doesn’t benefit me, I’m sort of going to shut it down. I’m not going to be a part of the team.’ And that’s unfortunate. But right now, we have to continue to build together."
Foles returned to the lineup in Week 11 after sustaining a clavicle injury in Week 1 and undergoing surgery, an injury that put him on injured reserve for two months while Gardner Minshew II took his place in the lineup and went 4-4 as a starter. Meanwhile, Foles is still looking for his first win as the Jaguars' starting quarterback.
As Foles looks to find that win, he has made it clear that finding the team's identity and building a positive culture is a focus of his. But while Marrone said losing means a team likely doesn't have a good culture, Foles gave a differing perspective.
"You’re going to have teams that do really well, and you’re going to have teams that don’t. But just because you’re losing, just because you’re struggling, doesn’t mean you have a bad culture," Foles said, a stark contrast from Marrone's comments.
"Great teams are built in times like this if you handle it the appropriate way, and that’s sticking together and continuing to move forward and not point fingers."
When it comes to culture, it appears at least on the surface that Foles and Marrone are not in lockstep and are sharing two different public messages. With the Jaguars' season already off of the rails due to the recent losing streak though, it remains to be seen how much that disconnect actually matters.