The Jacksonville Jaguars had a great opportunity heading into the last stretch of the 2023 season. Following the win over the Houston Texans in Week 12, they had a 99 percent chance of making the postseason. But then, they started losing. By the time they realized it, they had dropped four straight games and the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts had caught up with them in the race for the AFC South.
Still, the Jags had won enough games early in the season that they wouldn't have needed help from other teams to make the playoffs. All they had to do was beat the Tennessee Titans and they would've been in. It wouldn't have mattered that they mustered just three wins from Weeks 10-17 as long as they took care of business and disposed of their division foes in the finale. But they failed, and they're now watching the postseason from home.
A promising 6-2 start was undone in the second half of the season, but how did it happen? How did the Jaguars come crashing down? Here are three reasons for the collapse.
3. The Jaguars bought into their own hype
Good teams know how to manage expectations. The Jags couldn't. Their defense was among the top 10 units in the league in the first half of the season. The offense also managed to score despite the drops and penalties. However, they got complacent in the second half. As outside linebacker Josh Allen noted, they were waiting for a spark that never came.
In 2022, they went on to win seven of their last nine games to qualify for the postseason and win the AFC South. Based on several players' comments, they were expecting to recreate the same magic but didn't put in the required work. Safety Andre Cisco, for his part, argued that the team couldn't deal with success, telling the media crops that he takes responsibility for not handling expectations properly.
The silver lining is that the Jaguars know that they cannot stop working if they want to get to the top. As the adage says, success isn't owned. It's borrowed and you have to earn it every day. Jacksonville found out the hard way.