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The newest Florida-based football franchise added to the National Football League is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Joining the ranks of the NFL in 1995, the Jags quickly found their footing amongst stiff competition in the AFC.
Starting off in 1995 with a record of 4-12, the team earned their first winning record the next season and kept improving each year until 1999 where they posted a record of 14-2. Along the way, Jacksonville managed to win their division twice (1998 & 1999), make the playoffs four times, and advance to the AFC title game twice. All of this success came under the regime of no-nonsense coach Tom Coughlin. Following a period of regression after the 1999 season, Coughlin was eventually replaced by Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio coached the team from 2003 to 2011, making the playoffs twice in that time frame. His last playoff game, a 31-20 loss to the New England Patriots in 2007, marks the last time the Jaguars saw postseason action. Though popular with his players, Del Rio was let go following the 2011 season. Replacing him would be Gus Bradley. A team in the middle of a crisis, Jacksonville’s woes were too much for Bradley. He could never get his team to perform well enough to earn more than five wins in a season.
The current team, led by quarterback Blake Bortles, is looking to shake off the 3-13 record of the 2016 campaign under the leadership of new head coach Doug Marrone. Marrone gained familiarity with the team while serving as an assistant head coach and offensive line coach. A former player and longtime coach around the NFL and NCAA, Marrone is focused on turning this franchise around. Drafting Leonard Fournette, the running back from LSU, as the fourth overall pick in the 2017 may go a long way toward improving the offense for this squad. As long as the offensive line holds up Bortles should have plenty of targets available to him. Wide receivers Allen Robinson, Marquise Lee, and Allen Hurns all provide a threat in the passing game, as does tight end Marcedes Lewis.
The defense for the Jaguars, thought of as questionable in recent years, may have seen a resurgence in the offseason that could pay dividends during the season. Anchored by linebacker Paul Posluszny, the Jags have added a lot of talent to this side of the ball. Most notable among the additions are defensive end Calais Campbell (coming from the Arizona Cardinals) and safety Barry Church (from the Dallas Cowboys). These pieces, along with defensive tackle Malik Jackson and 2016 number five overall draft pick, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, could add up to a legitimate contender in the AFC South. Big things may be on the horizon in Jaguars country.
The Jaguars also brought back their original coach, Tom Coughlin, as executive vice president of football operations. This front office job will reunite the Jaguars with the most successful coach they have ever had and, undoubtedly, have a trick-down effect to the team, bringing about a higher level of competition that is synonymous with Coughlin and his legendary work ethic.
Though still a young franchise, the Jaguars have had a number of great players on their teams over the years. Some of the most loved players in Jaguars history include Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jimmy Smith, Tony Boselli, Mark Brunell, and David Garrard. Click here for additional information about the Jacksonville Jaguars.