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Despite divisional-round loss to Chiefs, 2022 Jaguars have been an enormous success


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Earlier this week, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson summed up how Jacksonville’s 2022 season ought to be outlined.

He had been requested about his message to the gamers getting into the divisional spherical. 

“We’ve put ourselves in this position to be one of the four remaining AFC teams and you got a lot to play for,” Pederson defined Tuesday. “Whether we win, whether we lose, our season was a huge success from that standpoint.”

And that message stays the identical in wake of the Jaguars’ 27-20 loss to the Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, ending Jacksonville’s season. 

This Jags’ marketing campaign has been successful. An enormous success. 

That does not erase the damage of Saturday’s sport for the Jaguars, in fact.  They had favorable circumstances. Despite being heavy underdogs, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes injured his ankle late within the first quarter and missed the remainder of the primary half — and the Jaguars could not take benefit. 

It was 10-7 when Mahomes left the sport after a area aim drive. But on the Chiefs’ ensuing possession, the Jaguars gave up a 98-yard landing drive to backup Chad Henne, aided by a roughing-the-passer name in opposition to defensive lineman Arden Key and giving up a 39-yard run to tailback Isiah Pacheco. 

The Jaguars clawed again inside three factors early within the fourth quarter with a four-yard landing run by Travis Etienne Jr., arrange by Trevor Lawrence’s 37-yard strike to Zay Jones and an 18-yard reverse by vast receiver Christian Kirk.  But the Chiefs’ lead was again as much as 10 after Mahomes — on his bum ankle — engineered a 10-play, 75-yard landing drive to place Kansas City up 27-17 halfway by way of the ultimate interval. 

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Then the Jaguars had consecutive turnovers. Receiver Jamal Agnew fumbled on the 3-yard line, then Lawrence was picked off by cornerback Jaylen Watson concentrating on Jones. 

Jacksonville was nonetheless in it till the top, after Patterson’s 48-yard area aim, earlier than a failed onside kick try with 24 seconds left. 

“Some of the same ugly mistakes that showed up in this game were what showed up early in the season,” Pederson stated. 

But the loss apart, how may this Jaguars’ season be described as something apart from successful? 

Through 2021, this was a franchise swimming in irrelevancy and dysfunction. A franchise that had 4 wins the earlier two seasons mixed. A franchise that completed final place in its division 4 straight years. A franchise that final made the playoffs in 2017. A franchise that had proven no progress regardless of repeatedly choosing at or close to the highest of the draft. 

Then in Year 1 with Pederson, they discovered one thing to construct on. 

“Nobody expected us, the Jaguars, to be in this football game — from the beginning of the season to today,” Pederson stated. “I just told them how proud I was of them for how they hung together all season long, how they battled and fought through a ton of adversity. Just proud of the way they battled all season to get to this spot and really battle in this game to come down to an onside kick to potentially seeing what happens.”

Sure, we anticipated enchancment within the Jaguars’ first season with the highly-regarded Pederson, a Super Bowl-winning coach. But not like this: 9 common season wins (a six-win enchancment from final season), an AFC South title, and a playoff victory. Lawrence, who struggled as a rookie, emerged as a real franchise quarterback.

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Most importantly? The tradition has modified; the usual elevated. It begins with Pederson, who made transparency and constructing belief his high priorities upon arrival in Jacksonville. The basis he laid made the Jaguars bulletproof to the adversity they confronted in 2022. It helped them overcome a 2-6 begin to the season, together with a five-game dropping streak in October. It helped them pull off 5 comeback victories because the begin of November, together with the third-largest comeback victory in NFL playoff historical past final week after they beat the Chargers within the wild card after trailing 27-0 within the second quarter.

“Practice was not a time we just messed around or got by,” Jones stated of the tradition. “We were trying to win in practice. There were scenarios in practice that were very, very difficult. … we’d have a routine for what we’re normally doing and then maybe Doug flips the script: ‘Now, it’s a compete period.’ Good on good. Third down. Who’s going to win this. Put us in a backed-up situation. Put us in a third and long. Put us in a stressful situation. Put the defense in a stressful situation. Crank the noise. Those are the type things that give you that feeling in your stomach like, ‘Even though, it’s practice. There’s something on the line.’ So you’re consistently practicing those habits. So when the game time comes, it’s not that you get into game mode. It’s that you’re already in it.”

Heading into 2023 and past, the Jaguars can be justified to consider they could be a high AFC contender for the foreseeable future — within the combine with the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals — with the correct tweaks. They now have the coach. They have the quarterback. They have the inspiration. And they will have Calvin Ridley, the previous Falcons No. 1 receiver acquired in November who’ll be eligible to play in 2023, assuming there are not any hiccups along with his reinstatement course of subsequent month (he was suspended by way of no less than 2022 for betting on NFL video games). 

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“Our expectation is to be in these games every year,” Pederson stated. “We want to be one of the four, five, six teams in the AFC each year.”

The 2022 Jaguars are successful, and defining them as something however — regardless of Saturday’s loss to the Chiefs — would discredit the place this staff has taken the franchise. 

“To be a part of turning around Jacksonville, even just seeing the city come back alive and the fans come back alive, it’s awesome,” tight finish Evan Engram stated. “It’s something that this group of guys can hang on for the rest of their careers, the rest of their lives. We’re literally just starting.”

“We’re not expecting mediocrity from this team no more,” linebacker Foye Oluokun stated. “That’s for sure.” 

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He beforehand labored for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, the place he was the Titans beat author for a 12 months and a half. He coated the Seattle Seahawks for for 3 seasons (2018-20) previous to shifting to Tennessee. You can comply with Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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