Don’t expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to back down any time soon

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Jalen Ramsey /

The Jacksonville Jaguars reached new heights in the 2017 season. But the team is built to continue to take the NFL by storm.

For the better (well, worse) part of a decade, the name Jacksonville Jaguars was synonymous with futility. From 2008 to 2016, the Jaguars never finished with a winning record, and never had won more than five games in a single year from 2011 on.

But after years of heartache and disappointment, something happened. The tides changed. The 2017 season arrived, and with it, so did what was missing for so long: winning. Jacksonville was one of the biggest surprises in the league, with a single-season turnaround to remember. Just one year after going 3-13, the Jaguars went 10-6, claimed the AFC South crown for the first time, and battled all the way to having a fourth quarter lead over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship.

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But while the team achieved unexpected levels of success this season, make no mistake about it: the winning was no fluke, and the Jaguars are built to compete at the highest level for years to come.

With home runs in the draft and free agency, Jacksonville has created one of the most talented rosters in the league. Along with the sheer talent, is the fact that the majority of the team’s stars are still young and just coming into their own:

Jalen Ramsey: 23 years old

Leonard Fournette: 23

A.J. Bouye: 26

Telvin Smith: 26

Yannick Ngakoue: 22

Myles Jack: 22

Dante Fowler Jr.: 23

Cam Robinson: 22

Allen Robinson: 24

That list alone contains a first-team All-Pro, two second-team All-Pros, five pro-bowlers, and a rookie running back who surpassed 1,000 yards rushing.

Pair those guys with older veterans who are also making substantial impacts, like PFWA Defensive Player of the Year Calais Campbell and pro-bowler Malik Jackson, and the Jaguars are stacked and poised to make return appearances in the conference championship, and more.

Even who many considered was ultimately going to be the anchor that pulled the team down, Blake Bortles, played perhaps his best football when the playoff lights came on against the Steelers and Patriots. I expect the Jaguars to still look at potential upgrades at the quarterback position this free agency, but Bortles showed he is not the lost cause many labeled him as throughout the season, and if in fact named the starter next year, has proven he can win in the postseason.

Also noteworthy moves whose success will show for years to come is the hiring of Tom Coughlin as VP of football operations, and the decision to select Doug Marrone as head coach. The importance of both moves were felt immediately in 2017, with Coughlin aiding in bringing in the talent to win, and Marrone taking the team to the next level.

The abrupt climb to the AFC Championship was a shock to most, both locally and especially nationally. But the talent that has been assembled, along with the staff put in place, have the Jaguars in a position to prove it wasn’t a fluke, and that the team is ready to compete with the best of the best consistently.