Prior to the beginning of the 2021 NFL season, the Jaguars were a team thought to be on the rise.
They hired one of the most accomplished head coaches in college football history, the team transitioned into a defense that many believed would suit its personnel better, they selected former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall; a player many assumed would become a top-flight QB quickly when he entered the pros.
Instead, the team sits at 2-14, finishing its season on Sunday without a head coach, marred with plenty of drama and scrutiny throughout, uncertainty with the personnel on both sides of the football, and a QB that wasn’t able to tally more than 10 touchdown passes through 16 games of a 17-game season.
Lawrence is going to improve, he’s already shown plenty of ability throughout the year, but it certainly wasn’t the season he, nor anyone that covered, watched or even glanced at the Jaguars for a period of time expected.
Still, even with all of the troubles, all of the dysfunction and further uncertainty staring him in the face, Lawrence believes that the franchise will turn around; that there are better days ahead for Jacksonville, and himself, knowing that no one wants to go through what they went through as a team this year ever again, he said.
“I have confidence we won’t but that gives you a little bit of just whatever’s around the corner, it doesn’t matter,” Lawrence said on Wednesday.
“I’m just going to keep being me every day and just keep being that same person. That’s, I think, the biggest thing I’ve said before to you guys is being consistent. I know there’s some really good days ahead.
“I’m excited just to experience that with obviously whoever is a part of those teams in the future and just this city and these fans. I know this place deserves it, so I’m excited for that. I know it’s going to come.”
Better days ahead are what Jaguars fans are currently clamoring for. Everyone has seen the social media campaign that the fans started last week when it was reported that general manager Trent Baalke would remain for the foreseeable future.
There are even some that might show up to Sunday’s game in clown gear, voicing their displeasure for the trajectory the franchise is in. While Lawrence says he wouldn’t be one to dress up as a clown, he understands the fans’ frustration and wants it to be better in Jacksonville, too.
“I’m sure that hasn’t been easy,” Lawrence said of being a Jaguars fan of late. “[There’s] a lot of die-hard fans that this is I wouldn’t say everything for them, but this is something that’s very important to them is the Jags and they’ve been a fan since the Jags started. You see that passion and you definitely respect that.”
Certainly, the players that suit up every day to win football games week-in-and-week-out don’t want to lose. No, they want to play well not only to win the game itself, but to play well for their pride and, of course, their jobs. There hasn’t been much mailing it in from the large majority of the team, it just hasn’t worked.
“As players, I know the feeling,” said Lawrence. “We want to do everything we can to win for this city, for these fans and obviously we haven’t had much success this year. That’s frustrating for us as well, so I understand from a fan’s perspective.
“Would I do that personally? No, I wouldn’t do that. But fans feel how they feel and it’s hard. Like I said, this year’s been disappointing for all of us. We wanted to win a lot more games, so I get the frustration. But for us, we’re just focusing on going and finishing with a win this season.”
The Jaguars will have an opportunity to play potential spoiler on Sunday against the Colts. The final game of the season, Indianapolis is set to play in a must-win situation, otherwise, they have a high likelihood of missing the players entirely.
There’s something to play for in Jacksonville, and Lawrence feels that that will be the case moving forward as they look to turn around the franchise.