Five years ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars were riding high after a fourth quarter drive ended in a game-winning field goal by Jason Myers. They had vanquished the Miami Dolphins at home. The sun was setting on Blake Bortles’ 16th game — a full season’s worth of action.
It felt good.
At the time.
Over the next five years, the Jaguars would claw and scrape their way to just 28 more wins. We overcame a 21-0 deficit. We lucked into Elvis Dumervil grabbing the quarterback’s face mask. We saw the defense outscore the offense in Pittsburgh. We held an opposing offense to just three points in the playoffs. We kicked two field goals against a division rival. We boinked a field goal off the uprights in overtime. We hung close with a future 0-16 team. We needed an opposing defender to forget to touch our wide receiver.
It never felt easy. Even during that magical 2017 season it never really felt right for more than a week or two at a time because our quarterback wasn’t a natural thrower of the football.
But here we are in a new era. We’re 16 games into the Gardner Minshew experience and the difference between how it felt back in 2015 and now is almost indescribable. You’d still call us “competitive” but it’s a different feeling altogether because there is a canyon between being competitive with a good quarterback and being competitive in spite of your quarterback.
Minshew is 7-7 in his first 16 games and he has rarely been the reason this team has lost. I count four games in his rookie season that he absolutely imploded. Other than that, he either contributed to an easy day at the office or willed us to victory with some magical last-minute drive.
Bortles? Foles? Kessler? I can count on one hand how many times I can say the same about any of them.
And while yesterday was competitive, it still sucked for a number of reasons. Tight ends carved up the middle of our secondary. A few bad calls just didn’t go our way. A mediocre quarterback was gifted a career day. The pass rush... well, I don’t want to talk about our pass rush.
But we weren’t competitive because of the opposing quarterback threw a back breaking interception or some fluke play went our way or because we lucked out on a penalty call.
We were competitive because of our quarterback.
Feels different. Feels good.