Jacksonville Jaguars: Where it all went wrong

Jacksonville Jaguars: Where it all went wrong

Jack Laufer is a Contributing Writer for The Bugle. The opinions expressed here are solely his own and are not meant to reflect views of The Bugle staff or The Bolles School.

If you told me two months ago that the Jaguars wouldn’t be playing in Super Wildcard Weekend, I would probably assume that they finished as the one seed in the AFC and earned the first round bye. 

If you told me that the Jaguars didn’t play in Super Wildcard Weekend because they were eliminated, I would laugh hysterically. 

After the Jaguars’ victory over the Texans on November 26, the Jaguars were standing on business as the one seed in the AFC, and the New York Times playoff simulator predicted the Jaguars to make the playoffs in 99% of their simulations. 

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Five weeks ago, the Titans beat the Jaguars, officially eliminating them from playoff contention. 

The whole city and team is still shocked from what occurred. After the Titans game, safety Andre Cisco said, “It’s hard to process this moment…I definitely didn’t think of an outcome where we’d be going home today.”

Eight weeks ago, the Jags were on fire. Everyone in the media was talking about the Jaguars like they’d already clinched their ninth playoff berth in franchise history. Going into week 13, Jacksonville was mostly healthy, Trevor Lawrence was dealing, and the defense looked reminiscent of the legendary 2017 Sacksonville.

So, where did it all go wrong?

Depending on how you look at the situation, you could point out many different ways where it all went wrong. 

In my opinion, this historic downfall happened a few minutes into the week 13 overtime loss versus the Bengals. 

During the first drive of the Monday Night Football game against the Bengals, Lawrence connected with a wide open Christian Kirk for a 26 yard catch. During the play, Kirk fell awkwardly and recieved a season-ending injury. 

Three quarters later, the Jaguars found themselves in a tight 28-28 game in the fourth quarter on the Bengals’ 23 yard line when center Luke Fortner stepped on Lawrence’s ankle, sidelining him for the rest of the game… and I may or may not have wept many tears. 

And to add insult to injury (literally), the Jaguars ended up losing this game in an overtime heartbreaker, 34-31. 

All Jaguar fans quickly looked past the loss and turned their attention to their franchise quarterback, because the injury he suffered wasn’t the easiest to watch.The injury Lawrence suffered that night was a high ankle sprain—typically, ankle sprain injuries sideline players for six to eight weeks.

Shockingly, on only six days’ rest, Trevor played the next game in Cleveland.

In my opinion, this was the absolute worst decision of the year. Why would you let a 24-year-old quarterback play six days after he suffered an injury?! A common factor amongst quarterbacks who turn into the face of the franchise is that they take care of their bodies. There have been many cases where a franchise thinks they have a franchise quarterback until he forces himself to play through an injury. Take Chris Simms for example: Tampa thought they had a franchise quarterback until Simms played through a fractured spleen. If Lawrence wants to be one of the greats in Jacksonville, he first must learn to take care of his body.

You could tell that Lawrence was playing with an injury this game, throwing for 257 passing yards and three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions. The Jags would go on to lose this game 31-27.

This loss was a terrible team effort. Lawrence threw a hat trick of interceptions, the O-line let up 4 sacks, the run game wasn’t efficient at all – averaging 2.5 yards a carry, and the defense let the 41-year-old Joe Flacco pick them apart. The only somewhat bright spot was that Evan Engram had an amazing day, logging 95 yards and two touchdowns.

After week 14, the Jaguars were 8-5, and still had a one game lead in the AFC South. There was still some faith in the city, though the team had two back to back rough weeks.

The best teams in the NFL don’t maximize how many good plays they make, but minimize the errors they make.

Week 15 was back at the bank on a primetime Sunday night football match against the future one seed holder, the Baltimore Ravens.

In my opinion, this game was when the Jaguars truly got eliminated. 

The Jaguars had every reason to win this game; it was a teal out primetime at home, they had to win to keep the sole possession of the AFC South, and they were also playing the best team in the conference. 

To this day, I still can’t decide which was more embarrassing: watching the Jaguars flop like a fish out of water on national television, or my neighbor confronting me the following morning for waking him up in the middle of the night after the atrocious play calling to end the second half. 

Yet again, the Jaguars dropped this game, 23-7. Everyone was losing hope.

In week 16, the Jaguars traveled to Tampa Bay for a Christmas Eve matchup against the Buccaneers. 

For my own sanity, I will not go back and analyze this game. The final score of 30-12 says enough. 

Entering week 17, the Jags were 8-7, the four seed in the AFC, and tied for the lead in the AFC South – a drastic change in four weeks. 

Thankfully, the Jaguars took on the 2-14 Carolina Panthers at home. The Jaguars treated this as a bye week, benching Lawrence and limiting the snap count for many other starters. 

The Jaguars blew by the Panthers, 26-0, and controlled their destiny in a do or die week 18 against the hated Tennessee Titans.

Well, the Jaguars fumbled their destiny away, falling inches away (literally) from their second consecutive AFC South championship. 

Post game, Coach Doug Peterson said “Me personally, I’m frustrated, I’m disappointed, I’m mad, I’m angry… They worked their tails off. This sucks.” Looking back on this season, it seems people have quickly looked past our success and focused on the downfall, which is easy to do. People are acting like they are about to go straight back to the “classic Jags” who constantly go 3-14. 

The city of Jacksonville deserves better than the tragedy that happened in the last two months of the season. Heading into the offseason, I fully trust the front office to make the hires and signings to push us over this 9-8 hill and into the true contenders area. Go Jags!

About the Contributor
Jack Laufer
Jack Laufer, Contributing Writer
Jack Laufer is a freshman and first-year staffer. In his free time Jack enjoys playing and assistant coaching baseball, participating in Speech and Debate, and playing guitar. Jack hopes to gain strength in his writing and stay in touch with the news this year. Jack collects all types of sports jerseys and hopes to become a broadcaster in the future.