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The only positive thing about the greatest collapse in Jaguars’ history

The Jacksonville Jaguars went from being a legit Super Bowl contender to cleaning out their lockers before the first playoff game kicks off. Here’s the only positive thing I can take from a season of epic disappointment.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
Trevor Lawrence lost his final five games to finish off a 2023-24 season that was an abject failure.
Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

2023 was a tough year for me personally. From the first home loss I attended against Kansas City to the final road loss I watched in my living room here in California, the Jaguars were my distraction through it all. To be locked into watching a game for three hours, with one’s mind not drifting to the things that cause sadness and frustration, is exactly why caring about a team is so important to so many. Including myself.

Unfortunately, sadness and frustration are two of the feelings so many Jaguars fans have in the aftermath of a season that fell woefully short of what was expected. What this team was capable of and what they achieved is a gap almost as big as those Derrick Henry was running through this past Sunday.

And what makes the 2023 season more difficult than all the losing this fanbase has endured over the past two decades is that the answers so many of us felt the organization had and were told were correct, were not. Truly, is Trevor Lawrence the right quarterback to lead this organization for the next decade? Are Press Taylor and Mike Caldwell the right coordinators? Is Doug Pederson the right head coach? Is Trent Baalke the right general manager to be making personnel decisions? Talent. Scheme. Leadership. It’s all fair to question because, honestly, how the hell does an 8-3 team finish 9-8 and fail to make the playoffs? (And against quite the murderer’s row of backup quarterbacks, nonetheless.)

Last year, when Trevor was in the Arrowhead Stadium tunnel dabbing each teammate as they came off the field in an admirable but losing effort against the eventual Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs, there was hope. There was promise. This team was going to be part of the elite. Winning a Super Bowl was a real thing in Jacksonville’s near future. And for a majority of the 2023 season, those feelings were being somewhat validated with the product on the field. Getting to 8-3 wasn’t always pretty, but most NFL games aren’t pretty – is what we were told. Gritty not pretty was the refrain we heard from Doug Pederson.

Now, this organization is just lost.

And as fans who give our time, energy and money to trying to ‘lock down the Bank’, who are forced to endure the “alright, alright, alright’ guy immediately after the opposing team daggers us with an eight-minute scoring drive, who try to move on from failed season after failed season by getting excited for free agency and the draft, we feel lost, too.

This morning I woke up to a number of messages on my Jags’ text chain. There was talk from my friends about not renewing season tickets, checking out of watching other teams compete in the playoffs, and the tangible impact missing the postseason has on local businesses and the morale of so many in the city.

It’s group therapy.

Perhaps some of those feelings are reactionary. Maybe, with time and perspective, we’ll all chill out a little bit. The gallows humor, the desire to burn it all to the ground, a renewed clown movement ... some of that will most certainly fade away.

But a sense that the fans of the Jaguars have given so much and received so little in return is very real, and it won’t go away until this organization delivers on the expectations they tell us they set year after year.

If nothing else, the Jaguars have helped bring me community. And in what was the greatest collapse in franchise history, that’s really the only positive thing to come from the performance this team gave us this season.