The majority of us who regularly contribute content or read articles on Big Cat Country are diehard Jacksonville Jaguars fans, and it’s nice to have this platform to talk about the NFL team we admire most. But, why are we fans of a team that has been so historically awful the last decade-plus? I guess we like misery.
It’s tough being a Jaguars fan. There has been so much disappointment, heartbreak and question marks for the better part of the past 11 seasons — 10 of which were losing or .500 seasons, one of which was as close to a Super Bowl as this team has ever been. But no matter what the situation is, we remain fans because we’re loyal and passionate to this organization, so long as you weren’t a bandwagon fan when this team finally found success in 2017.
What’s weird is that the Jaguars found so much early success in its first few years of competition. Jacksonville was awarded a franchise in 1993, and entered its first year of play in the 1995 season as an expansion team. Following a 4-12 season in the first year, the Jaguars not only made the playoffs during the 1996 campaign, but also made an improbable run to the AFC Championship game. Jacksonville then made the playoffs each of the remaining years in the 1990s, returning to the conference championship game during the 1999-2000 season. So, for those counting along at home, that was a four-year playoff streak, and four times in the franchise’s first five seasons of competition.
Since then? Just the 2005, 2007 and 2017 teams have made the playoffs. The ‘05 team had a first round exit, and put up just three points against the New England Patriots. The ‘07 team had a tremendous Wildcard round win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but were then bounced out of the dance once again by the Patriots. Then, of course, there was last year, when nobody believed in the Jaguars other than the #DTWD crowd, and the Jags made it back to the AFC Championship game, and we’re mere minutes away from playing in the organization’s first ever Super Bowl. Myles Jack wasn’t down, but all of this hype created the highest expectations Jacksonville had had since probably 1999 — or maybe ever.
But the Jaguars failed to meet, or even come within the same stratosphere of those expectations in 2018. The Blake Bortles experiment finally met its end. The injuries were unbearable. The play-calling was questionable. The team’s discipline was seemingly non-existent. Other teams figured out what worked for the Jags in 2017, and in a league now where offense is everything, the very foundation the current Jacksonville roster was built on crumbled.
Personally, for me, what is really frustrating is that I have to go to such great lengths to even be able to watch Jaguars games in the Detroit area. And when I finally find a medium to do so, it almost always ended in frustration on the majority of Sundays. I mean, my favorite team is the Jacksonville Jaguars and my hometown team that I also root for is the Detroit Lions — two of the four NFL teams that have never reached a Super Bowl. Why? Because I like pain, apparently.
Jaguars fans are disappointed. And we 100 percent should be. This team had so much potential following last season’s emergence. While there are certainly no guarantees in the NFL, the 2018 season was never meant to go in this direction. But we — the true fans, anyway — will continue to follow this team, continue to root for this team and continue to love and be passionate about this team. We’re not afraid to say that changes need to be made, or call out poor decisions or bad play — especially the BCC staff. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see the Jaguars be successful. Honestly, that’s all we really want.
On top of all of this, owner Shad Khan made the interesting decision to bring back the current leadership regime for 2019, with executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell. Now, I figured Coughlin and Marrone would be back, and honestly I am fine with that. But I really thought it was time for a new general manager, and I think the Jags are missing an opportunity there. Let’s hope I am wrong. With that said, the Jaguars are making changes on the coaching staff by replacing multiple assistants. The team will of course hire a new offensive coordinator soon as well.
It’s tough being a Jaguars fan, but we are anyway —despite constant relocation jokes and a poor on-field product — and at least for me, that will never change.