Winning cures almost everything, and that much was made obvious almost immediately following the Jaguars’ 24-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins last weekend.
The players and coaches speaking following the contest exhibited an optimism that hasn't been seen in the building following a game since Week 1 of last season, the last time the team had won a contest.
No, there weren’t reports about Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer losing the locker room, or players not quite responding to his messaging. In fact, the team celebrated with its head coach, and have sung his praises. Winning can help a lot.
Just take a look at the video the Jaguars shared on Friday, featuring several players, including safety Andrew Wingard, and DE/OLBs Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson, among others, celebrating and hugging their head coach.
Winning helps, and with the first victory of his NFL career, Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence knows how big of a confidence booster the victory can be. Lawrence mentioned earlier this week that the win helps a lot, and it came at a great time, too, considering the team is on its bye week.
“Obviously, we would of liked to win a few of the other ones but right before the Bye Week, I think like I said, you get a lot of momentum going into it. You have a chance to get your bodies right,” said Lawrence. “We have a lot of guys banged up. We have two full weeks before we play again, so we have a lot of time which we need so it is perfect.
“It just shows that no matter the situation, because we had some guys out, we can still find a way to win so that’s what it’s all about. To see that carry over and for us to actually finish the game and pull it out, that’s huge and you have that confidence. If we prepare and play four quarters, we’ll be in a position to win and we proved that we can do that and just trying to do that moving forward.”
Simply put, the Jaguars figured out how to win on Sunday, and according to QB coach Brian Schottenheimer, the only way to do that is to, well, win a game.
“I think it’s important because, you know, everybody says, ‘Oh, you gotta learn how to win.’ Well, how do you learn how to win, you win, and you win a close game,” Schottenheimer said on Wednesday. “And now when we get in a situation when we’re down by field goal, you’re down by a touchdown, or even a tie game, they can pull from that and say, hey, we’ve been here before. Hey, remember what we did against Miami?”
That’s what happened for Jacksonville on Sunday, the players and coaches earned their first victory of the season. For some, including several coaches such as Meyer, it was the first victory of their careers. That means something, and it carries through to the rest of the organization, too.
“I think at my age, I am just so excited for the guys and how hard they work,” Meyer said on Monday. “I have been talking about this locker room and this team. I know it’s one game and I know, I know, I know. I just know I love these players and it was great to see their faces after that game, our quarterback, our line.”
The Jaguars have one of the youngest locker rooms in the NFL. As of the cut-down day this season, the average age for a Jaguars player was 25.5 years old, the fifth-youngest team in the NFL. That meant, a lot of their players hadn’t experienced a win yet, or if they were rookies last season, had experienced just one in 399 days.
Jaguars cornerback Shaq Griffin, on the other hand, has experienced winning, being a part of a winning team in Seattle for four seasons prior. For the confidence of the team, Griffin felt, that the win was hugely important if only to show the young guys how to win a football game in the NFL.
It wasn’t just that the Jaguars won, either, it was how the team won. In a crunch-time situation, need to battle back, and score with time expiring, game. It perhaps couldn’t have been a better finish for a young team in need of seeing that it could even be done, that the team wasn’t inevitably going to lose in the end, according to Griffin.
“I was getting people coming up to me saying ‘Hey man, I have not got a win since last year Week 1.’ You know that is a long time and that can really deteriorate a person’s confidence a lot,” said Griffin.
“To see the light come back on and see the guys have more hope knowing that we really can do this and it was not us just talking about it. We were saying ‘we are going to get this W’ and it was not happening and now that we see that we can do it, the confidence is definitely going to be different.”
Now, the Jaguars must build on its win. The win but itself shouldn’t be overlooked, but it can’t stop there, otherwise, they’ll be right back where they started. But now, with the monkey off their back, the team ought to be able to play looser, knowing that they can win a football game.
It sounds simple, but that’s how dire the situation had been in Jacksonville. Now they’ll have another opportunity soon, next week as they take on the Seattle Seahawks.