Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 season over in heartbreaking fashion, but future is bright

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 07: Defensive end Calais Campbell
JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 07: Defensive end Calais Campbell /

This hurts, doesn’t it? That’s a much better feeling than apathy.

The Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 season is over in January. While it’s still too early for some fans (myself included) to move on and get excited for the off season we have to remember that this is what football is supposed to feel like.

For too many years, Jaguars fans were just numb. Numb to losing, numb to embarrassment. We talked about who to take in the draft before Thanksgiving. We watched the playoffs as impartial observers, knowing in our guts we never really got close.

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Flip the calendar back to August, and there was no real reason to think that this year was going to be any different. To say that the hire of head coach

Doug Marrone

did not make a splash is probably an understatement. Sure, there was football IQ there and the Jaguars performed much better in his two games as interim head coach, but could promoting from within really provide the sweeping changes this team would need?

Then came the preseason. The Jaguars couldn’t block. They couldn’t run. The defense looked like a sieve. Worst of all, Blake Bortles, coming off one of the worst quarterbacking seasons in NFL history was in danger of riding the bench. The only relief at the time was Chad Henne.

The Jaguars 2017 season looked like it was going to be much more of the same. Even the most optimistic of fans was staring down the barrel of an eight-to-nine win season. Then week one happened. The Jaguars won in convincing fashion, and all of a sudden the preseason may well have been a decade ago.

Just like how fans of good teams should feel in week one.

The point isn’t to recap the entire Jaguars 2017 season, but I want to drive something home: this year was special.

Sure, there are no guarantees in the NFL that success can be sustained. (The thought here is that it will be, but those thoughts are for another day.) Even if the Jaguars continue to make long postseason runs, you don’t get to take everyone by surprise more than once or twice in a lifetime.

Relish that no one saw this coming. Relish the fact that for the first time in a decade your team was a focal talking point for football fans everywhere.

Man, wasn’t the Jaguars 2017 season fun?

The highs were ridiculous. Five interceptions in Pittsburgh is the stuff of legends. The league’s most beleaguered quarterback in the nation’s eyes threw a beautiful long bomb for a touchdown to an undrafted rookie from Kentucky Wesleyan against the Legion of Boom. I could go on forever.

There are certainly arguments to be made for the Cinderella run in 1996, but I think the Jaguars 2017 season was the best ever.

There will probably be more successful seasons to come, but we’ll never get this ride again. The word is out about our team. Four Jaguars are starters in the Pro Bowl, two more will join them as alternates. There is no more Cinderella, just a good football team.

Another side effect of this journey? Just as most fans, I fell head over heels in love with just about every player on the 53 man roster. Even though the core of the Jaguars is young, there’s no way we get all these guys together again. The 2018 Jaguars roster will look different from this one, just as it does for every team. There will be time to talk about who should stay and who should go (and boy will we) but we’re going to lose some of these guys. That’s how it works.

Jaguars fans should be excited for their team. All indications are the pieces are in place for good, sustained run. Still, be wistful for the Jaguars 2017 season. This was a once-in-a-lifetime ride for most football fans and we won’t get it back. I doubt when we look back on it in years to come we’ll remember the pain we’re feeling today. Instead I think it will make us smile. Wide.

Thank you Jaguars. Thank you for the best football season in franchise history.