Living up to the hype will be one of the Jaguars biggest challenges in the 2023

The Jacksonville Jaguars must live up to the hype they built since the end of the 2022 season.
Jan 7, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  fans celebrate after the Jacksonville Jaguars beat.
Jan 7, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; fans celebrate after the Jacksonville Jaguars beat. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars turned heads in 2022 when they beat the Tennessee Titans to advance to the playoffs and knocked out of the Los Angeles Chargers out of contention a week later. Heading into the 2023 season, the Jags face several challenges to return to the postseason and one of them is living up to the hype.

Just recently, Adam Rank of NFL Media recently took a look at the state of the Jags and touched on several topics, including what it would take for the 2023 season to be considered successful. He says the Jags must make the playoffs, pointing out that they haven't clinched a seed in back-to-back years since 1999.

"They have not posted a winning record immediately following a playoff appearance this millennium. But I believe in these Pederson-led Jaguars. They're different. Yes, I admittedly have a soft spot for this team and this fanbase, but to me, Jacksonville isn't far away from joining the true elites in a stacked AFC. Last season was just the beginning, and I expect to see the Jags back in the playoff journey in January."

Rank is right that the Jaguars have enough talent to keep up with AFC heavyweights such as the Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Coincidentally, they're set to play all three in 2023 and Jacksonville must win one or two of those games if they want to return to the postseason. On the other hand, Rank wonders if the offensive line will hold up and whether their defense will be able to complement the offense.

Working in the Jags' favor is that they have a franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, who's quickly ascending into NFL stardom. Of course, Lawrence can win games alone, so the team's brass has surrounded him with an outstanding supporting cast. On defense, Jacksonville has several building blocks and if players such as Travon Walker and Josh Allen can take the next step, they'll have one of the best units in the league.

The Jaguars cannot sink under the weight of expectations in 2023

While making the playoffs is something the Jaguars must strive for, it feels like the 2022 team is built for more. It's true that they haven't reached the postseason in consecutive years in a long time but setting the bar at clinching a berth might be a bit too low.

Last year, the Jags exceeded expectations. Projected to win six to seven games in what figured to be a multi-year project, they won the AFC South and made the playoffs. Heading into Year 2 of the Doug Pederson era, Jacksonville has enough pieces to contend. And that's the thing why settle for reaching the playoffs when they have the talent to reach the conference championship.

The best teams are looking making strides and getting better. They certainly take one game at a time and a head coach's focus will be onto the next week but they do it with having a successful season in mind. In previous years, it might have been unfathomable to have high expectations for the Jaguars but not anymore.

Pederson came in and turned the Jacksonville Jaguars in his first season at the helm. Now, it's time they take the next step in 2023. They have the coaches, the players, and a pretty good front office. Why not set their sights on the AFC Championship? How about the Super Bowl?

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