The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the 2018 season with an amount of pressure unaccustomed to the team in a decade.
It’s no secret that before the massive success of 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars were perennial basement dwellers in the NFL. From 2008 to 2016, the Jaguars did not produce even one winning season, and only reached a .500 record once, in 2010. Jacksonville became synonymous with never-ending suffering.
But then 2017 arrived, and everything changed. Doug Marrone was hired as head coach, and Tom Coughlin made a triumphant return to the team as executive vice president of football operations. Two nonsense guys that expect nothing less than winning often, both hires began to turn the wheels of the mentality and attitude changing in Jacksonville.
Along with the hires, another offseason of massive free agent additions put the pieces together of a team that can compete in the league. And compete they did.
The Jaguars soared to a 10-6 record, won the AFC South for the first time, and clinched a home playoff game for the first time since January of 2000. In the playoffs, the team made a run to the AFC Championship by taking out the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers, and were a couple of plays away from a trip to the Super Bowl.
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But that success of the 2017 season is providing Jacksonville with its biggest challenge in quite some time: maintaining success with high expectations. The Jaguars are not under the radar anymore. No one is overlooking the team on the schedule any longer. Winning must now come when it is expected.
Jacksonville has a claim to the best defense in the league, and are making moves to reinforce the talent, and just as important, the strength on the offense.
While not as flashy of a free agency period as the previous two years, as expected, the Jaguars have done what it takes to keep the team in a position to compete with the best in the league, with the NFL draft still ahead. In fact, the majority of post-free agency power rankings have the team ranked in the top-ten, and some even in the top-five.
There is no reason to expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to fail to win at the high level of last season. But the team has to maintain success with a new hurdle in 2018: pressure.