Could the Jaguars Actually Win the Superbowl?
The Jaguars aren’t what you would call a successful franchise. A franchise that is younger than myself with the perennial threat of being relocated to London, and without a playoff appearance in 10 years. To top it off, they don’t have the best looking uniform either. And yet, they could win the Superbowl this year.
I’ve been an NFL fan since around 2009/2010. When you first take up an interest in the sport and start following the league, you get an impression of who the good teams are and who the bad teams are. You can group the Patriots, Steelers and Packers into both historically successful and constantly relevant. Then you have the up and down teams, such as my New York Giants. And finally, you have the franchises that seemingly always fail.
You have to admit, even the most die-hard Jacksonville fan would say that each season begins with the cautious optimism of Liverpool in the Premier League – “this year will be our year”. Certainly since I’ve been watching the NFL that’s been the case. The Jags seemingly always have a high draft pick, but nothing comes of it. If you continually get high draft picks and the team continues to fall short, maybe you point the finger at your GM or the coach.
The Return of Coughlin
Jacksonville addressed it. They brought on board the two-time Superbowl winning, and former Jaguars HC, Tom Coughlin as a consigliere (executive VP) type figure to Doug Marrone. The formula seems to be working, although I’m not sure how the relationship flows exactly. In any case, back when Coughlin was appointed to the role, he was asked about how much the 61.5% – 38.5% pass to run ratio play calling of the 2016 Jags bothered him. His response? “A lot.”
As we enter the business end of the regular season, it’s clear to see how things have changed. Leonard Fournette was drafted at number four out of LSU, and he’s become a key person on offense for this team. Rushing for 629 yards and 6 touchdowns, he’s been a big reason the Jags have been able to run the ball more efficiently. It means that the Jags are running the ball 6% more often than in 2016. It’s not amazing, but it’s solid.
It’s also a healthy reminder that you don’t need an elite QB to be a contender. We know that the Ravens won one with Flacco, the Broncos won one with a decrepit Peyton Manning, and you could argue Eli wasn’t exactly Joe Montana for the Giants too. That being said, Coughlin won two Superbowls with Eli at the helm. Neither of those sides had an amazing running game either – just solid.
Defenses Win Championships
The strength of any of those Superbowl winning sides laid on the other side of the field – defense. It’s not just Coughlin’s formula, but a well-known fact that defences win championships, and that’s what Jacksonville are doing. It’s not enough to just have that, you need to be able to run the ball too. Clock management is key to this strategy, and the Jags have their man to get that job done by running the ball down opposition throats. Running it efficiently allows the defense to rest up longer and make the key plays that rank them so high.
So, it’ll come as no surprise to you that Jacksonville rank second in the league for yards-per-game on defense with 285 total. They’re first in points-per-game with 14.9, first in yards-per-play with 4.6, and ninth in fumbles with 13. That’s Superbowl calibre defensive numbers. Do they have a Superbowl calibre QB? Nope. But as mentioned before, it’s very achievable to win the top prize without one.
What the Jags do have is a plethora of talent on either side of the ball. Young, hungry and ambitious football players who are ready to make the leap. We’ve seen Ramsey talk trash better than anyone in the league so far, and it reminded me of when Richard Sherman first came on the scene getting in Brady and Crabtree’s faces respectively. Let’s see if the Jags can back it up now like the Seahawks once did.
This OTI piece was written by Matt Carolan. Matt is a New York Football Giants fan from Co Wicklow, and is currently working in marketing. Matt can be found on twitter at