If you’re a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, you’ve heard words like “rebuilding” and “patience” for over half a decade now. The Jaguars haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and have had just one .500 season (2010) since then. The team has had no winning season since 2007 and the franchise as a whole has floundered in obscurity for nearly a decade.
But after years of waiting and being told their time will come, Jaguars fans are ready for winning football to return to Jacksonville.
The current administration and coaching staff have had their work cut out for them. Shahid Khan purchase the Jaguars prior to the 2012 season and Gus Bradley was hired as head coach prior to the 2013 season. From that stretch of 2012 to 2015, the Jaguars have won a dismal 14 games in four seasons, losing 50 games in the process. Of those 50 losses, 26 have come by 14 or more points.
While only two of those blowout losses happened in 2015 and most of Jacksonville’s losses were actually fairly close, they still finished 5-11 and still ended up in the top five of the NFL draft. Those five wins were the most the Jags had won in a season since 2011, but that’s hardly progress.
But now that Jacksonville put together what is being regarded as the best offseason in the NFL, expectations have risen significantly. And fans are wanting their patience rewarded.
Jacksonville has a strong core of young and talented players on offense. Quarterback Blake Bortles had a breakout campaign in his second year in the league last season and receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns both burst onto the scene as well. Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon had himself a very solid season and tight end Julius Thomas came on strong at the end of the season after a rough first half of the year. Then throw in a few new pieces along the offensive line and Chris Ivory at running back and Jacksonville’s offense appears set for several years.
But offense wasn’t the problem in 2015. The defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed last year, allowing opposing offenses time and time again to march down the field and score, putting Jacksonville’s offense behind the eight ball. No matter how good an offense is, it can’t overcome an inept defense in every single game.
And that’s why Jacksonville went after their defense hard this offseason.
Of the over $224.5 million Jacksonville spent on free agents this offseason, over $122 million of that was spent on defensive players, most notably defensive end Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson. Jacksonville’s first two picks in the 2016 NFL Draft were spent on defenders with extremely high ceilings. Both defensive back Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack are expected to compete for starting jobs immediately in 2016 and both figure to be cornerstones for future Jaguars’ defenses.
With all those upgrades added to the roster, the Jaguars have created a “win or bust” season in 2016. And if they want to keep the fans they have, they need to actually win.
Jaguars’ fans have endured one of the roughest stretches in the modern-day NFL. Since 2007, Jacksonville has gone 39-89. Do you know which other franchise has comparable numbers to that? The Cleveland Browns, who have gone 37-91 since 2007, which was also the last time they had a winning season as well.
Jacksonville has had four different head coaches since 2011. They’ve won a grand total of 19 division games in 48 attempts since 2007 and they’ve won five or fewer games in a season six out of the last eight years.
Patience has gotten Jaguars fans through the last half decade. They’ve seen their team stripped down and slowly rebuilt. Now after the biggest offseason the franchise has had in many years, hopes are higher than they’ve been in nearly a decade.
It’s time for Jaguars fans to have their patience rewarded.