Jacksonville Jaguars: On the NFL’s Comeback Trail

By  //  March 27, 2023

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Back in 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting. Since then, sports betting markets have expanded throughout the US.

There are deals available online from a variety of sportsbooks, which can be used for a range of markets and bets. It’s been a heyday for sports fans—especially those living in Florida. As Space Coast locals know, the state is heavy on sports.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When it comes to the Big Four leagues, residents can pick from multiple cities when choosing which teams to root for, from Miami to Tampa to Orlando. For the NFL, those options are split between the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Over the last decade, the Jaguars haven’t seen too much love beyond city boundaries. Any bandwagon fans were likely to jump on the Buccs train, while any longer-term NFL fan probably already had a Dolphins flag hanging nearby. But this could be changing for the Jags after almost three decades in Jacksonville. 

Since joining the NFL as an expansion team in 1995, the Jaguars haven’t managed to sink their teeth into the league. They’ve taken home no Super Bowl wins or any conference championships. In almost thirty years of play, they’ve only taken home four division titles. 

But one of those titles came from last season under a new head coach, Doug Pederson, and with the help of an exciting new lineup headed by one of the NFL’s most promising rookie quarterbacks, Trevor Lawrence. Could it be the start of a definitive Jaguars’ comeback?

A Question of Sporting Savvy

Like other expansion teams from the 1990s, including the Carolina Panthers and, more recently, the Houston Texans, the Jaguars have struggled to launch. Back in 2012, local fans were thrilled to hear that a new owner would be taking over: Shahid Khan. If you’ve heard of the name beyond the NFL, it’s likely from the world of professional wrestling. 

Back in 2019, Shahid and his son, Tony Khan, launched All Elite Wrestling (AEW), a rival series to the highly competitive WWE. Since then, they’ve managed to do what no other pro wrestling series has done—move into the market quickly and with great success. In fact, AEW has taken a sizable portion of the WWE’s primary audience and even its wrestling talent. 

So, what’s preventing Khan from doing the same with the Jaguars? It certainly isn’t for lack of savvy. Back in 2021, Khan managed to sign the NCAA’s most elite and successful coach of his generation: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. But Meyer quickly lost the reigns in what looked to be a personal breakdown; he was fired after leading the Jags to a 2-11 season. Though it was a veritable debacle, it led to the hiring of Pederson, who remains head coach.

Chances of Repeating the Playoffs

Back in 2021, Meyer wasn’t Khan’s only big signing. The Jags also signed Trevor Lawrence, one of the NCAA’s most promising quarterbacks. Since then, he’s become highly competitive and one of the team’s top prospects going forward. Combined with Pederson’s solid leadership, the team has started to curry more interest and favor from analysts.

The Jaguars’ 2022-23 schedule was recently released. Along with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Chargers, the Jaguars are expected to be one of the top competitors to take on the Kansas City Chiefs, last year’s Super Bowl champs. Much of this falls back to Lawrence’s experience in the league. He’s no longer a rookie now that he has a few seasons under his belt—and that could make all the difference this fall.

However, the Jaguars don’t have an easy schedule. The AFC is highly competitive, and the team will have to face multiple tough opponents on their home turf. This includes the Buffalo Bills, the Cleveland Browns, and the Buccaneers. Still, the leaps the Jaguars made last year, finishing their season 9-8 and earning a Wild Card Berth, hints that they’re just getting warmed up.

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The Offseason

So, what needs to happen this offseason for the Jags to return looking primed for another playoff run? Easily, the answer is to figure out how to protect Lawrence and optimize his performance. He’s the team’s not-so-secret weapon. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes has Travis Kelce—and Lawrence could use a similarly effective partner in crime.

Last season, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones did a stellar job, and they’ll need to repeat this year. But there are other key areas to target. Specifically, the Jags left last season with a very low passer defense—but will this be a priority for Khan? Already, the team is set to far overshoot its budget cap, which could lead to bargain signs during the offseason.

That will leave the Jaguars with limited options in the upcoming Draft. However, the team doesn’t necessarily need to target first-round picks to fill the necessary positions.

Jaguars Going to London

Fans of international travel will be thrilled to hear the Jaguars are heading to London to join the NFL’s 2023 International Series. As the team has done in the past, it will play one of its regular season games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. At the moment, the NFL has yet to announce when the game will be played and against whom.

Again, for fans of international travel—and especially those who enjoy London—this is great news. After all, it’s always fun to see a team compete abroad, especially in a regular match rather than an exhibition bout. But this isn’t the best news for the Jaguars.

After all, a trip across the pond is extensive travel—even more extreme than playing a game in Seattle would be. In other words, the International Series has a reputation for adding to player exhaustion. While the NFL makes every attempt to minimize things like jetlag and fatigue in how it schedules its International Series, this type of game could pose challenges for the Jaguars. In particular, challenges it doesn’t need when in the midst of a successful comeback.