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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 coming off a great 2017 season with a 10-6 record that won the AFC South. The season culminated in a trip to the AFC Championship game, where the Jags would ultimately fall to the New England Patriots by a score of 24-20. It was a great first season for Doug Marrone as the head coach. A former player and longtime coach around the NFL and NCAA, Marrone has been focused on turning this franchise around and made huge stride last season.
Drafting Leonard Fournette, the running back from LSU, as the fourth overall pick in the 2017 was another step in the right direction as he eclipsed 1,000 yards in his rookie season. As long as the offensive line holds up Bortles should have plenty of targets available to him again this year. Wide receivers Marquise Lee and Donte Moncrief provide major threats in the passing game, as does tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The defense for the Jaguars, thought of as questionable in recent years, underwent a resurgence last season and was a big part of their success. They gave up the second fewest yards in the NFL. The Jags have added a lot of talent to this side of the ball last year. Most notable among the additions were 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, add up to a legitimate contender in the AFC. The retirement of Paul Posluszny surely hurts, but this group will overcome his absence and soldier on.
The Jaguars also brought back their first head coach, Tom Coughlin, as executive vice president of football operations. This front office job has reunited the Jaguars with the most successful coach they ever had and, undoubtedly, had a trickle-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.