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Jaguars fans deserve this team and this season

It’s been a rough road, but loyalty pays off.

Seattle Seahawks v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars fans survived Gus Bradley, Blaine Gabbert, Mike Mularkey, and Gene Smith. We’ve survived Save The Whale and Oh No The Whale Beached Itself and Dear God The Whale Has Exploded.

It’s been tough to be a Jaguars fan for the past several seasons. Prior to the 2017 season, the Jaguars had won just 42 games since 2007. For those counting along, that also included 102 losses in those nine seasons and zero winning campaigns. The Jaguars won a mere 22 games since 2011 and had a top-five pick in each of the past seven NFL Drafts.

We all had our struggles as fans of this team. What made things especially hard for me was that I live in an area where I don’t know any other true Jacksonville fans. I didn’t have anybody to commiserate with. Sure, on rare occasions, I would see a person wearing a Jaguars shirt, but the moment I would strike up a conversation, I could immediately tell they actually had no idea about the team. Maybe they liked the logo, or something.

I was the butt of a lot of jokes. My friends never understood why I was a Jaguars fan. Hell, sometimes I didn’t even know why I continued to support this miserable franchise. But I stayed loyal. And all of the true Jaguars fans stayed loyal. Now, the 2017 Jaguars have rewarded us with a spectacular season thus far.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. The Jaguars haven’t won anything yet. A playoff berth has not yet been clinched. A division title win for the first time since 1999 is still not certain. Hosting a playoff game is not assured.

But what is assured is a winning record for the first time since 2007 — the last time Jacksonville made the playoffs. What is assured is that this team plays with a passion and a feistiness that had been missing from this team for the past ten years, at least. What is assured is that the coaching staff actually knows what it is doing. What is possible is that this may be the best defense the NFL has seen in a long time. What is possible is a playoff run. What is possible with this team is, well, endless.

The Jaguars are sitting at 9-4 right now after beating a tough Seattle Seahawks team. Jacksonville has beaten them as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens — all teams that are at least in the playoff hunt. The Jaguars have also beat up on lesser teams, as good teams should. Sure, the losses to the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals were bad, but that happens over the course of a long NFL season.

With three games remaining, the Jaguars have a favorable schedule. The combined record of those opponents is 15-24, and eight of those 15 wins belong to the Tennessee Titans.

The Jaguars should finish the season with at least 10 wins, and anything less than the playoffs at this point would be a disappointment. But no matter what happens, Jaguars fans deserved to see a winning team again. We’ve been waiting for a season like this for so long, and I don’t think many of us expected it to come this year. But it’s here and Jacksonville, if it hadn’t already, proved that it is for real by beating the Seahawks yesterday.

We have a right to be fired up about this team.

Doesn’t it feel good, y’all?