Uh oh. Here come the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Once upon a time, the Jaguars had a comically bad fight song. Way back in 1999, when they had championship aspirations, they released “Uh oh,” a hip-hop fight song. Sort of their version of the Super Bowl Shuffle. Unlike the 1986 Chicago Bears, they didn’t quite make it. Jacksonville was upset at home by the Tennessee Titans.
These days when you think “Uh oh,” there is a different vibe. Ladies and gentlemen, the Jaguars (6-8) could win the AFC South. They would be the No. 4 seed and host a playoff game. That’s shocking. Last Sunday could not have gone any better for Jacksonville after rallying to stun the Dallas Cowboys in overtime.
"Can Jacksonville's defense come up with the play?"- Greg Olsen— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 18, 2022
The Jaguars' Rayshawn Jenkins get a walk-off pick-six on a Dak Prescott pass to take down the Cowboys in OT! 🏈 pic.twitter.com/wpdYkqaS6w
Jacksonville won while everyone else in the division lost. Right now, the Tennessee Titans (7-7) hold a one-game lead. However, if the Jaguars win their final three games of the regular season, that would include a tie-breaking sweep of the Titans.
Don’t laugh. It could happen. Jacksonville has the league’s fourth-easiest remaining schedule. starting with a Thursday Night Football matchup at the New York Jets (7-7), a New Year’s Day visit to the Houston Texas (1-12-1), and then they host Tennessee in the regular-season finale. These are winnable games.
A year ago, Jacksonville was a laughingstock under Urban Meyer. Who’s laughing now?
Even with a change in coaching, not much was expected. Jacksonville’s preseason win total was 6.5, tied for the fifth-lowest. Thanks to a lousy division, eight or nine victories might be enough. The Jaguars don’t have to apologize for their record. This was always going to be a building season under first-year head coach Doug Pederson. His main goal was to develop quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who struggled mightily as a rookie.
Lawrence has improved; as a bonus, the team is learning how to win. Over his past six games, he has thrown 14 touchdown passes to one interception, and the Jaguars are 4-2. A guy who was touted as the best college quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck is starting to look the part. Lawrence displayed persistence last Sunday with four touchdown passes in a comeback from a 27-10 deficit. For an inexperienced bunch, this was invaluable. Entering this season, the Jaguars had the league’s fifth-youngest roster.
Jacksonville has only three players left from its last playoff appearance after the 2017 regular season when it lost in the AFC Championship game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Jacksonville #Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence in his last six games 👇— Southeast Sports Network (@SESNsports) December 18, 2022
– 27/42, 318 yards, 4 TDs
– 30/42, 368 yards, 3 TDs
– 17/31, 179 yards, 1 TD
– 29/37, 321 yards, 3 TDs
– 29/40, 259 yards, 2 TDs
– 25/31, 235 yards, 1 TD
In total; 157/223 (70.4%), 1,680 yards, 14 TDs, 1 INT pic.twitter.com/VUq3y04xfl
These Jaguars are ahead of schedule: postseason contenders in a developing year. That’s the best way to grow. Lawrence’s former Clemson teammate Travis Etienne Jr., who missed all of last year due to injury, has four 100-yard rushing games, including 103 versus Dallas. The defense has struggled at times, but linebacker Josh Allen and safety Rayshawn Jenkins can still make plays.
This all goes to show the importance of competent leadership. Pederson might not be a great coach, but he’s a Super Bowl-winning coach. From his experiences with the Philadelphia Eagles, he knows how to create a solid program. He came to Jacksonville with plenty of motivation after being fired. In retrospect, Carson Wentz’s physical decline probably had more to do with the Eagles’ problems than Pederson’s acumen.
When Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan hired Pederson in February, he said in a statement: “Doug Pederson four years ago won a Super Bowl as head coach of a franchise in pursuit of its first world championship. I hope Doug can replicate that magic here in Jacksonville.”
Jacksonville probably isn’t a serious Super Bowl threat even if it makes the playoffs. Maybe it will be within a few years. But for now, uh oh. Here comes the Jaguars.
It takes everyone.@zayjones11 | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/8dqENspMeQ— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) December 19, 2022