The Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t “finish strong” to end the 2015 season and they stumbled and bumbled all the way to a Week 17 blowout against the Houston Texans.
If you had told me back in Week 11 after beating the Tennessee Titans to rise to 4-6 that the Jacksonville Jaguars would finish the season 5-11, I would have punched you in the face and told you to shut your pie hole.
It’s hard to explain the wave of optimism that rose up among the Jaguars fan base after that massive division win in the middle of the season. Suddenly, the playoffs were in reach. The Houston Texans were struggling, the Indianapolis Colts were slumping, and the next opponents on the schedule were either crucial division games or underperforming teams like the San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons.
I remember thinking to myself, the Jags have to win at least three of those games. It didn’t seem impossible, after all Gus Bradley’s unit had won four of eight (including three in a row!) to close out his first season as head coach back in 2013. It shouldn’t be that hard, I naively thought to myself.
But, of course it was that hard.
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The only other win the Jaguars managed was a blowout victory over the Colts in Week 14. That lone win was nestled between a 39-42 heartbreaker to the Titans (their season high in points scored) and a 17-23 drubbing at the hands of an Atlanta Falcons team that had lost six straight before playing the Jags.
By the time the Jaguars lost to the New Orleans Saints in Week 16, all of the wind in the sails had disappeared. The playoffs were out of reach, the Texans were going to win the division with almost 99 percent certainty and what was once a promising season (and the high water mark for the last half decade) felt like a disappointment.
That may be the thing that is most bothersome about how the Jacksonville Jaguars stumbled through the finish line. This season felt like it was supposed to be something more. Maybe we all got swept up in the optimism and forgot that the Jags had only won three games the year before, but there was something that just felt right.
As we all settle down into a depressive funk, staring at the horizon from which the 2016 season will loom, it’s tough to look back and see all of the losses that could have been wins for the Jaguars this season. The late-season failures really hurt morale for fans and (I imagine) the Jaguars players, coaching staff, and front office as well.
In summary, 2015 was a step forward for the young Jacksonville Jaguars but based on how they finished, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.