Season in Review: Jaguars shattered expectations, looking forward to excitement in the future

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

While the end result wasn’t what was desired, fans would be foolish to look at the Jaguars’ 2022 season with anything other than pride.

Excitement was abundant going into the season, largely thanks to new head coach Doug Pedersen and free agent signings. Hope was through the roof after a pair of impressive wins early on, but this quickly went away with a five-game losing streak.

Thanks to some late season magic – along with inadvertent help from the rival Titans – the Jags managed to end the regular season as AFC South champions, punching their ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

They didn’t just show up, though. Jacksonville came ready to show the league on a national stage just what they were capable of.

Doug Pedersen at training camp
Doug Pedersen’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed, being named AFC Coach of the Year by the 101 Awards. (Justin Nedrow)

Playoff buzz quickly went up in flames for Jags’ fans when they found themselves down 27-0 against the Chargers in the Wildcard round. A nightmare first half looked like it would likely be the nail in the coffin, but one would be mistaken to have believed that.

The defense stepped up, holding the LA offense to just three points in the second half. This opened up the gate for Trevor Lawrence and friends to wreak havoc, sawing away at the lead. In a storybook ending, Riley Patterson punched through the game-winning field goal to send the Jags to the next round.

Up next was the Kansas City Chiefs, a daunting task for the young Jacksonville squad. They were gifted an opportunity early on when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes left the game with an ankle injury in the first half.

The Jags failed to capitalize, though, with Mahomes triumphantly returning in the second half to lead Kansas City to a 27-20 win. Jacksonville made multiple brutal mistakes, including a Jamal Agnew fumble near the end of the game, which shut down hope of a comeback materializing.

While this was obviously a disappointing end to the season, there’s plenty of reason for excitement going into the 2023 season. It’s been a long time since Jags fans had reason to expect success going into the offseason.

One obvious cause for excitement is the receiving corps. Additions like Christian Kirk and Evan Engram gave a much-needed boost to the passing game, but it’s only slated to get better. Now having served his suspension, former Atlanta Falcon Calvin Ridley will add yet another threat to this group.

Travis Etienne Jr. at training camp
Travis Etienne Jr. missed a large chunk of his rookie season due to injury, but bounced back in 2022 with an impressive season. (Justin Nedrow)

Further progression of young stars like Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne Jr. is another source for hope. Lawrence made huge strides in his sophomore campaign and will likely only get better. Etienne Jr. showcased the spark he could bring to the offense when healthy.

Factoring in the salary cap, some moves will need to be made among the roster. Pieces will be lost, but others will be gained as the Jaguars look to add more talent in the NFL Draft. They won’t be as high in the draft order as usual, but this is a tradeoff that fans will take any day of the week.

There’s a plethora of reasons creating buzz going into the offseason. While success next season is no guarantee, Jacksonville is rightly filled with optimism as the Jaguars continue to build something special in Duval County.


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