Before I dive into my most painful Jaguars memory, I must prelude with this: Yes, there are a lot of painful memories to choose from.
However, due to my young age (18), I can’t recall many painful, or any, memories of the Jaguars before around 2006 — Except for when I watched Rashean Mathis intercept Steelers backup QB Tommy Maddox for a pick-six in overtime in Week 5 of the 2005 season. I lived in Pittsburgh at that time, as I’ve written before, and my family is made up of Steelers fans, so I remember their agony after that game.
So, my most painful memory may not be the same as yours, as I’m willing to bet many of the responses will be losing to the Titans three times in 1999, coming short of a Super Bowl XXXIV appearance.
Truth be told, my most painful Jacksonville Jaguars memory is the 2016 season.
No, really, the entire 2016 Jaguars season.
The 2016 season was supposed to be the season that the Jacksonville Jaguars flipped the switch. After four offseasons of rebuilding the roster, as well as a 2015 season that flashed offensive dominance and provided significant hope for the future, the Jaguars entered the 2016 season with expectations galore.
Blake Bortles looked to be exactly what the Jaguars drafted him to be: The franchise quarterback. He broke several Jaguars single-season franchise records in touchdowns (35), passing yards (4428), and yards per game (276.8), and certainly seemed to be on his way to being a top-tier NFL QB. His peers ranked him as the 56th best player in the NFL after his 2015 campaign.
To add to Bortles’ success in 2015, the Jaguars added defensive tackle Malik Jackson, running back Chris Ivory, free safety Tashaun Gipson, left tackle Kelvin Beachum, punter Brad Nortman, cornerback Prince Amukamara, and left guard Mackenzy Bernadeau to further improve the roster and to be ready to compete in 2016.
Even with all of the on-paper potential, something — no, a lot of things — went wrong.
As of today, only four of those seven free agent signings are still on the roster, and one of them is now a backup after a disappointing 2016 season (Ivory).
As we all know as Jaguars fans, Bortles had a miserable season, stemming from regressed mechanics, poor decision making, the lack of a run game and seemingly miserable coaching. His TD:INT ratio was 1.43:1, and he completed only 58.9% of his 625 passes, for only 3905 yards. His 6.25 yards per passing attempt ranked 28th in the NFL.
All of these factors hurt Bortles, and although the run game and coaching were addressed this offseason, his mechanics and decision making will be his make-or-break going forward.
The Jaguars “1-2 punch” at running back, Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, combined for a miserable 904 yards and four touchdowns on 247 attempts, averaging a combined 3.66 yards per carry.
The team finished the year with a 3-13 record, and two weeks before the season had ended, the Jaguars fired the second worst coach in NFL history (behind Bert Bell from 1936-1941) in Gus Bradley. When his tenure as Jacksonville’s head coach was over, Bradley sat at 34 games below the .500 mark (his final record was 14-48).
So, what was the root issue that caused the Jaguars to be so miserable last year, considering the expectations of greatness heading into the season? Was it just that, the expectations were too high for a fairly unproven, young team? Was it all on Bradley? Was Bortles’ 2015 season a fluke? At this point, I believe it was a combination of all three factors, but regardless of what it was, the season was a major letdown.
Due to the heartbreak that was the 2016 season, regardless of who the Jaguars have added to the roster; Regardless that the Jaguars replaced Gus Bradley; Regardless that Tom Coughlin is back in town, I’m not giving this team any benefit of the doubt. I’m not expecting many wins from this team until they prove that they’re capable of providing wins.
It sucks that, as a fan, I’ve come to this point where I literally can’t hold solid expectations for the team’s potential on paper, but when you haven’t had a winning season in going on 10 years, you get to a point where you can’t help it.
So, my most painful memory was the Jaguars 2016 season. I’m sure many readers and commenters will disagree, and some will flame me for not believing in this team at the moment, but that’s just what I’ve come to.
Prove me wrong in 2017: Blake, Doug, and Co. I want to see my Jaguars win. Make me forget my most painful memory.
What’s your most painful Jaguars memory?