This is the time of year Jacksonville Jaguars fans are usually mulling over who should be the first-round draft pick. Now we don’t know … or care.
Winning changes everything. In one of the most improbable and unbelievable midseason turnarounds in NFL history, the Jaguars went from being a team in the mix for the top overall pick to being in the playoffs as the AFC South champions.
Now it’s Chicago’s turn to sort through all of the resumes to find a can’t-miss player. Jacksonville certainly found its franchise quarterback two years ago in Trevor Lawrence. The jury is still out on the Jaguars’ No. 1 pick last year, Trevon Walker. The defensive end from Georgia finished the regular season with 3.5 sacks. The second pick of the draft, Aidan Hutchinson, finished with 9.5 sacks.
But since the Jaguars are in the playoffs and Detroit isn’t, for now, we’ll call it a wash.
Jacksonville will try to advance out of the wild-card round on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Jaguars beat Los Angeles, 38-10, in the third week, but a lot has changed since then for both teams.
After starting 2-6, Jacksonville flipped a switch and won seven of its last nine games. The turnaround started on Nov. 6 with a 27-20 win against the Las Vegas Raiders. There also were victories against Baltimore, Dallas and twice against Tennessee down the stretch.
To put this in perspective, at 8-1, the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals are the only teams in the AFC with a better record in the last nine games. The second-seed Buffalo Bills are 7-2 in their last nine games.
A team that’s more known for having back-to-back first-overall picks now is one of the hottest teams in the league. And nobody has a hotter quarterback. Lawrence survived the Urban Meyer debacle from a year ago to find his footing midway into his sophomore season. In the last nine games, Lawrence has completed 214 of 307 passes (69.7%) for 2,273 yards and 15 touchdowns. And in that stretch going back to the first game in November, Lawrence has only thrown two interceptions.
As the football team gained momentum – and respect – the fanbase woke from a six-year stupor created by lost games and a lack of direction.
In the past four years, the Jaguars have gone through four different head coaches. In the previous three years, the team won a total of 10 games. They won nine this year and take a five-game winning streak into Saturday night’s game.
Just like that, the biggest decision facing Jaguars fans is whether to pay premium dollars to attend the game at TIAA Bank Field in person or to snuggle in your favorite recliner. Either way, it’s going to be electric.
Jacksonville fans now are more concerned with how many hot dogs and hamburgers will be cooked and how many beers will fit in the cooler. Right now, nobody cares who the team will draft in April to improve its roster. As fans, we are happy with the current roster.
Eventually, we will have to turn our attention to the draft. But instead of dealing with the pressure of putting the future of the franchise on the shoulders of one player, the Jaguars will have to find a diamond in the rough from the group who can make impacts but aren’t worthy of top 10 consideration.
While Jacksonville has drafted smartly in the past two years, the team doesn’t have a good track record drafting talent. Let’s not forget 2012 when the Jaguars took punter Brian Anger with the seventh pick in the third round. Five picks later, the Seattle Seahawks took quarterback Russell Wilson.
By winning seven of its last nine games, Jacksonville has taken a big step in erasing a lot of disappointing memories of its past. Postseason talk now focuses on the next game, not the draft. Let’s hope we get to do it again next week.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here