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Simulation experiment! Which historical Jacksonville Jaguars team is the best?

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The simulation gods have spoken.

Fred Taylor #28...

With training camp not yet upon us, and fantasy football drafts soon on the horizon, let’s have some fantasy fun with a simulation experiment. For this idea, I drew inspiration from my friends over at Pride of Detroit, where they wrote about a simulation experiment pitting the winless 2008 Detroit Lions against the 18-1 2007 New England Patriots – Yes, it is tough being both a Jaguars and Lions fan.

I wanted to try out this WhatIfSports.com myself, where you can match up historical teams from previous years against each other. You can even control the weather, see scoring summaries and check out play-by-plays, if you want to go that deep into it.

I decided to take the six playoff teams in Jacksonville Jaguars history, seed them in an NFL-playoff style manner, and do a best-of-seven series with the teams to see who was truly the best Jaguars team in franchise history. Then record all of the data and write an article for your reading pleasure – because what else would I do with my time this past weekend (sarcasm).

Note: I randomly changed the weather in a game or two each series, but most games were with clear skies.

Seeding (league scoring rank that year):

  1. 1999, 14-2, 396 points scored (6th), 217 points allowed (1st)
  2. 2005, 12-4, 361 points scored (12th), 269 points allowed (6th)
  3. 2007, 11-5, 411 points scored (6th), 304 points allowed (10th)
  4. 1997, 11-5, 394 points scored (3rd), 318 points allowed (15th)
  5. 1998, 11-5, 392 points scored (8th), 338 points allowed (17th)
  6. 1996, 9-7, 325 points scored (14th), 335 points allowed (19th)

Round 1, Matchup 1: 1996 Jaguars (6) @ 2007 Jaguars (3)

Game 1: 2007 Team 37, 1996 Team 14

Player of the Game: Maurice Jones-Drew (13 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

Game 2: 2007 Team 41, 1996 Team 17

Player of the Game: David Garrard (17 of 23, 290 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 3: (medium wind): 2007 Team, 27, 1996 Team 17

Player of the Game: MJD (10 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD, 2 catches, 48 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

Game 4: (rain, wind): 2007 Team 28, 1996 Team 14

Player of the Game: Fred Taylor (16 carries, 188 yards, 3 TDS)

Scoring Summary:

2007 team wins 4-0

Series wrap-up: There was no miraculous playoff run for the 1996 team this time around. The two-headed monster of 2007 Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, coupled with efficient play from David Garrard was too much to handle for a team in just their second year of existence. The 1996 team was able to keep it closer once the elements changed, but the 2007 squad was built for those kinds of conditions. Maurice Jones-Drew found the end zone several times in this series. Shout out to Reggie Williams who scored two touchdowns in Game Two (if only). Man, I miss the brand of football the 2007 team played.

Series MVP: Maurice Jones-Drew (two Player of the Game awards)

Round 1, Matchup 2: 1998 Jaguars (5) @ 1997 Jaguars (4)

Game 1: 1998 Team 27, 1997 Team 14

Player of the Game: ’98 Mark Brunell (18 of 26, 196 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 2: 1997 Team 20, 1998 Team 14

Player of the Game: ’97 Brunell (20 of 27, 236 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs)

Scoring Summary: disclaimer: I forgot to take a screenshot of the scoring summary. Sorry! Missing one is not bad, right?

Game 3: 1998 Team 35, 1997 Team 30

Player of the Game: ’98 Brunell (15 of 22, 251 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 4: 1997 Team 30, 1998 Team 27

Player of the Game: ’97 Brunell (19 of 27, 253 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 5: (Heavy wind): 1998 Team 32, 1997 Team 24

Player of the Game: ’98 Fred Taylor (19 carries, 153 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

Game 6 (medium rain and wind): 1998 Team 48, 1997 Team 24

Player of the Game: ’98 James Stewart (17 carries, 83 yards, 4 TDs)

Scoring summary:

1998 team wins 4-2.

Series wrap-up: As expected, this was a fun, close series because so many of the players overlapped and faced off against their virtual clones. The 1998 team pulled off the slight upset “on the road.” Both the 1998 team (8th) and the 1997 team (3rd) ranked in the top-8 in the league in terms of points scored, but were middle of the pack in defense. Ultimately it was the high-powered offense of the 1998 squad led by series MVP Mark Brunell that won it. The ‘98 club scored at least 27 points in five of the six matchups.

Series MVP: ’98 Mark Brunell (two Player of the Game awards)


Round 2, Matchup 1: 2007 Jaguars (3) @ 2005 Jaguars (2)

Game 1: 2005 Team 17, 2007 team 13

Player of the Game: ’05 Byron Leftwich (12 of 20, 160 yards, two TDs, 0 INTs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 2: 2005 Team 20, 2007 Team 19

Player of the Game: ’05 Greg Jones (10 carries, 47 yards, 2 TDs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 3: 2007 Team 23, 2005 Team 14

Player of the Game: ’07 Fred Taylor (15 carries, 91 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

Game 4: 2007 Team 20, 2005 Team 11

Player of the Game: Maurice Jones-Drew (10 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

Game 5: (Light rain, heavy wind): 2007 Team 29, 2005 Team 14

Player of the Game: ’07 Garrard (16 of 29, 247 yards, 1 TD)

Game note: Quinn Gray threw two passes

Scoring Summary:

Game 6 (Heavy rain and wind): 2007 Team 13, 2005 Team 10

Player of the Game: ’07 Fred Taylor (14 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

2007 wins 4-2

Series wrap-up: The 2007 team came storming back in the series after losing the first two games. These were two similarly built teams, but Garrard lead the 2007 squad while Leftwich was at the helm for 2005. Strong running and great defense helped the 2007 team move on to the championship round. It’s not surprising that this series was close and all of the games were low scoring when you look at the identity of both teams – ground and pound and strong defense. Not a single game during the duration of this series saw a winner score more than 23 points.

Series MVP: ’07 Fred Taylor (two Player of the Game awards)

Round 2, Matchup 2: 1998 Jaguars (5) @ 1999 Jaguars (1)

Game 1 (medium rain): 1999 Team 21, 1998 Team 3

Player of the Game: ’99 Fred Taylor (17 carries, 125 yards 2 TDs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 2: (medium wind): 1999 Team 45, 1998 Team 20

Player of the Game: ’99 James Stewart (16 carries, 153 yards, 4 TDs)

Game note: Fred Taylor and Stewart both had 16 caries each

Scoring Summary:

Game 3: 1998 Team 16, 1999 Team 6

Player of the Game: ’98 James Stewart (14 carries, 56 yards, 1 TD, 2 catches)

Scoring Summary:

Game 4: 1999 27 Team, 1998 Team 17

Player of the Game: ’99 Fred Taylor (15 carries, 42 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches)

Scoring Summary:

Game 5: 1999 Team 27, 1998 Team 24

Player of the Game: ’99 Mark Brunell (3 TDs, 0 INTs)

Scoring Summary:

1999 wins 4-1

Series wrap-up: The 1999 team won the series in only five games, but it was a lot closer than it looked. Games 5 and 6 were both decided by 10 points or less, and the 1999 squad had to mount a comeback in Game 6, tying it up 24-24 with 1:36 left on the clock, and then getting the field goal win in overtime (back when overtime was sudden death rules). A strong running attack sealed it for Team ‘99. The 1999 versions of James Stewart and Fred Taylor out-performed their one-year younger selves and found the end zone multiple times.

Series MVP: ’99 Fred Taylor (two Player of the Game awards)


Championship round Matchup: 2007 Jaguars (3) @ 1999 Jaguars (1)

Game 1: 1999 Team 12, 2007 Team 10

Player of the Game: MJD (10 carries, 42 yards 1 TD) — First time a member of the losing team received Player of the Game.

Game Note: Mike Hollis was the real MVP.

Scoring Summary:

Game 2: (medium wind and rain): 2007 Team 12, 1999 Team 10

Player of the Game: David Garrard (11 of 17, 117 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

Game 3: 1999 Team 26, 2007 Team 12

Player of the Game: Jimmy Smith (5 catches, 151 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

Game 4: 2007 Team 31, 1999 Team 24

Player of the Game: Mark Brunell (despite losing, 18 of 30, 196 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT)

Game note: MJD rushed for 101 yards and TD (should have been MVP)

Scoring Summary:

Game 5 (heavy rain and wind): 1999 Team 17, 2007 Team 14

Player of the Game: James Stewart (17 carries, 146 yards, 2 TDs)

Scoring Summary:

Game 6: 1999 Team 24, 2007 Team 10

Player of the Game: ’99 Fred Taylor (18 carries, 146 yards, 1 TD)

Scoring Summary:

1999 wins 4-2

Series wrap-up: This was the championship matchup I predicted when I began the experiment. Thinking back on Jacksonville’s history, it was the 1999 and 2007 teams that I thought were the best. But the 1999 squad ultimately wins it all in simulation land. The ‘99 team was Jacksonville’s most dominant, and to this day, had the best chance of bringing a Lombardi Trophy to Duval. With two top-10 defenses facing off, the series was pretty low-scoring. The first two games ended in the same score, but Mike Hollis’ leg won Game 1 for 1999, while a last minute safety sealed Game 2 for 2007. Ironically, this was the first series where a member of the losing team won the Player of the Game award and it happened twice.

Series MVP: N/A – no player received more than one Player of the Game award


Champion: 1999 Jaguars!

Fernando Bryant #25

For added fun, I ran the 2016 Jaguars against the 1999 team, and somehow the ’16 Jaguars won one game out of five and lost Game 1 by a single point. Then again, the 1999 team also won the fifth game 52-10.

Of course, this is all just for fun and games, but how great would it be to see Jacksonville field a team as heroic as the 1996 squad, as dominant as the 1999 team or as intimidating as the 2007 club? It’s been far too long since we’ve seen a Jacksonville team that is a legitimate contender.

So, yes, I did this to relive the glory days. What am I doing with my life?

Let us know your thoughts in the poll below.

Poll

Which Jacksonville Jaguars team was the franchise’s best?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    1996
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    1997
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    1998
    (4 votes)
  • 86%
    1999
    (286 votes)
  • 0%
    2005
    (0 votes)
  • 9%
    2007
    (30 votes)
331 votes total Vote Now