Jaguars GM Trent Baalke embraces shark mindset after 2022 success

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

NFL teams probably used to overlook the Jacksonville Jaguars, and why wouldn’t they? The Jags were often in the cellar of the league before 2022. But things have changed after finishing above .500 and making the playoffs for the second time since 2008. General manager Trent Baalke, for one, thinks they now have a target on their back.

Baalke talked to the media following the conclusion of the 2022 season and said that Jacksonville has become the hunter after being ‘the hunted’ in previous years.

“It’s a lot easier to be the hunter than the hunted”, Baalke said. “As you get better and you become the hunted, the challenge gets harder, right? You’re gonna get every team’s best when they show up in Jacksonville. In the past, they maybe thought this was going to be an easy out. That’s no longer going to be the case”.

“But the last part of this season really prepared this young group to understand that there’s a real sense of urgency that goes into being a championship-caliber team. It just doesn’t happen, players saw that. You really see it in the playoffs but because we were playing really playoff football for the last month of the season, it was evident to them how much urgency there is starting Monday”, Baalke said.

Baalke originally joined the Jaguars front office as the director of players personnel in 2020. He become their interim general manager when David Caldwell got the boot and got the job on a full-time basis following the 2021 season. Baalke has overseen the last two drafts and has added players such as running back Travis Etienne, safety Andre Cisco and center Luke Fortner. Similarly, he signed players that were paramount to the team’s amazing turnaround such as tight end Evan Engram, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and wide receiver Christian Kirk.

Trent Baalke’s role in the Jaguars recent success shouldn’t be overlooked

While Baalke has retroactively gotten praise for his work, he deserves credit for turning out the outside noise. Even though he didn’t have a glowing reputation around the league and was questioned for ‘overpaying’ Christain Kirk and Zay Jones with the Jaguars, his a big reason for their success last season.

Similarly, owner Shad Khan deserves a pad on the back for keeping the embattled general manager around despite the fact that it wasn’t a popular move.

Baalke landed on the Jaguars when they were at their lowest point, so he must feel great about the progress they’ve made over the last two years. However, he knows the work isn’t done and he now needs to replenish the roster in the offseason to help Jacksonville get over the hump in 2023.

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