The Jacksonville Jaguars only had one winning season in the 2010s and it came in 2017. That year, they made it all the way to the AFC Championship and came close to playing in the Super Bowl. Former Jags running back Leonard Fournette believes that if they had beaten the New England Patriots in that game, they would have stayed together. However, there are reasons to believe Jacksonville would have split regardless.
Fournette made a recent appearance on Good Morning Football and said what everybody know: The refs made a bad call that benefited the Pats and helped them come back from a 20-10 deficit. Playoff Lenny doesn't stop there though, and says that a different outcome would have kept the 2017 core together longer.
"It brings back so many memories. Myles Jack wasn't down", Fournette said. "That's the famous quote we always say, he was not down. It just brings back so many memories. I know for a fact if we would have won that game, that franchise team still would've been together. You'll never know what would've happened, how many we could've won. We were young at the time, we still had a lot of vets".
GMFB host Jason McCourty was quick to pour a bucket of cold water on Fournette's assertion, rightfully pointing out that the Jags still had plenty of time to win the game but they couldn't get it done, and he's right. Jacksonville and Mack were the victims of a bad officiating call but saying that play was the catalyst to the Jaguars disbanding the following years seems like a stretch. Here's the clip of the exchange:
The 2017 Jaguars weren't built to last, would've eventually disbanded
Whether the 2017 Jaguars have beaten the Patriots or not, that team wasn't built to last. Blake Bortles wasn't a good quarterback and although winning the AFC Championship would have given him a longer grace period, his shortcomings as a signal-caller would have come to light at one point of another.
Similarly, the front office didn't do enough to replenish the roster the following years. In 2018, they came out of the draft with defensive tackle Taven Bryan and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. The former has been a non-factor throughout his career and is playing for his third team in as many seasons. Chark, on the other hand, made the Pro Bowl in 2019 but injuries have derailed his career. Even if he had remained healthy, the Jags would have still had a hard time winning games in 2020 and 2021.
Fournette also points to the presence of several veterans on the Jacksonville roster. Most of them were gone by the start of the 2020 season, so it's hard to think of a scenario where the Jaguars would have become perennial contenders. Make no mistake, the 2017 defense was great but then-general manager Dave Caldwell actively dismantled it. On top of that, he failed to replenish the offense and find a quarterback, which is why they managed to win just 12 games from 2018-2020.
Looking at Fournette's comments from an objective perspective, it feels like he's romanticizing a pretty good year in Jacksonville Jaguars history and that's fine. Having said that, the Jags would still have broken up even if they had gotten a break against the Pats.