Sam's Commentary

January 23, 2018 Commentary Archive

Jaguars Pain Is Real, Because They Earned It

by Sam Kouvaris
Posted January 23, 2018 ===========================================================================

In the locker room, the pain was real.

Quiet and somber, the Jaguars went about the business of breaking down the loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, speaking with the media and having small conversations among themselves.

I've been in the losing locker room for the Jaguars for three of these and they're the same in many ways but different in others.

In 1996, the Jaguars finished the regular season at 9-7 and got hot behind Clyde Simmons on defense and Natrone Means at running back. The trip to the AFC Championship game in January of 1997 was so unexpected that it had a "glad to be here" feel. Nobody expected the Jaguars to beat the Patriots on a cold night in Foxborough at the old and dumpy Sullivan Stadium. A couple of critical turnovers did the Jaguars in that night, but the team was so young and exuberant that in the losing locker room that night it felt like the start of something.

And it was.

The Jaguars were an upstart expansion franchise that got good fast. They were in the playoffs the next three years straight, culminating with a trip to the AFC Championship game after the 1999 season.

After going 14-2 and demolishing the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round after a bye, the Jaguars hosted the conference title game. Leading at halftime, they melted in the second half and fell to the Tennessee Titans for the third time that year. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher called Jacksonville "our other home field."

While that one hurt, it was more anger and disappointment than hope in that locker room. The Jaguars were the best team in the league that year and they knew it. A blend of veterans and young players, they were right in the peak of the cycle of competitiveness. There was no talk of "next year," the team knew their chance had happened "now" and they lost. After getting beat at home, the Jaguars had four consecutive losing seasons.

Sunday's loss to the Patriots had a similar feel to 1996, much like the entire 2017 did as well. Except this year's team wasn't just "glad to be there." They believed they could win the game and win the Super Bowl. The swagger and proclamations by Jalen Ramsey and others weren't just boastful: It was what they really believed.

"I believe in this team," Calais Campbell told me in front of his locker. "We know we can do this but we didn't get it done tonight. I believe in these guys in this locker room and believe we'll be back here."

As emotionally painful as the loss was to the players, it also showed a steely determination that burns in these guys, even after getting beat.

"We created our core, and that's what you build from" Telvin Smith said.

"We have a good core group of guys," echoed Malik Jackson. "We changed a lot of peoples minds, got them thinking about us in a positive light."

"I think these guys can't wait to get back to work," former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell explained. "When you have a team like that and you get that close, you can't wait to start again and finish the job."

Every year is different and the Jaguars were blessed with good health, especially on defense throughout the year. That doesn't always happen so it's difficult to project that they'll just pick up where they left off.

"We'll start all over again," head coach Doug Marrone explained. "You have to build that foundation. Right now what you feel is the end. It's sad."

Although most analysts didn't give the Jaguars much of a chance this year, the turnaround was remarkable. From 3-13 to the AFC Championship from the outside looked impossible. But the team thought they were something special from the beginning.

Marrone explained that's why this one especially stings.

"We wanted more and we knew we had the ability to do it in our hearts.' That's what hurts. I think if you feel lucky, like you feel like, 'oh gosh, we were lucky' or, 'oh gosh, that was unbelievable,' then maybe you don't feel like you've earned that right in some capacity. Then I think you can let it go quicker. When you feel like you've earned it, you were there, you feel you're good enough, you feel all those things."


Commentary by Sam Kouvaris

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ARCHIVE of The College Weekly Report

01-21-2018 - Heartbreaking Loss In AFC Championship Ends Jaguars Season
01-21-2018 - Jaguars In NE: "We're Ready To Go"
01-21-2018 - Respect For The Jaguars? We Don't Care, We Live Here
01-19-2018 - Telvin Smith Brings Talent, Heart
01-18-2018 - Tom Mcmanus Says The Jaguars Will Win
01-18-2018 - Hard Work No Stranger To Marrone
01-18-2018 - Marrone: Right Guy, Right Place, Right Time
01-17-2018 - Blake, Teammate, And That's How He Likes It
01-14-2018 - Jaguars Come Alive, Upset Steelers, Head To AFC Title Game
01-13-2018 - Jaguars In Pittsburgh, All Business
01-11-2018 - Jaguars To Play Eagles In London
01-07-2018 - Jaguars Beat Buffalo With Defense,"Grit"
01-05-2018 - Khan, "I'm very, very bullish on Jacksonville."
01-03-2018 - Boselli, Dawkins Finalists For 2018 Hall Of Fame
01-01-2018 - Marrone's Routine Stays The Same
01-01-2018 - Jaguars Home, Have Already Moved On
12-31-2017 - Jaguars Look Ahead To Playoffs
12-31-2017 - Jaguars Limp Into Playoffs
12-31-2017 - Jaguars Win AFC South, Lose Game, Poise In SF
12-17-2017 - Jaguars Dominate Texans 45-7, Qualify For Post-season
12-10-2017 - Jaguars Make Big Statement Beating Seattle, 30-24
12-03-2017 - Jaguars Sweep Colts, Eye Post-season
11-28-2017 - Mullen Is The New Gators Head Coach
11-26-2017 - Jaguars Falter, Lose To AZ, 27-21
11-24-2017 - Boselli's Chances For The Hall? Pretty Good
11-22-2017 - Boselli, Dawkins, Butler Among Hall Of Fame Semifinalists
11-20-2017 - Jaguars Do Just Enough, Beat Browns 19-7
11-12-2017 - Unlike Previous Years, Jaguars Find A Way To Win 20-17 In OT
11-05-2017 - Back To Back And At Home, The Jaguars Look Legit
10-30-2017 - McElwain Departure "It's Never Pretty"
10-26-2017 - Telvin Smith New Deal: Worth Every Penny
10-18-2017 - NFL, Khan, Players and Protest
10-16-2017 - Inconsistent Again, Jaguars Lose To Rams
10-08-2017 - Jaguars Real Selves? Dominate Steelers 30-9
10-01-2017 - Jaguars Models Of Inconsistency, Fall To Jets In OT
09-24-2017 - Jaguars Kneel, Lock Arms With Khan In Show Of "Solidarity"
09-24-2017 - Jaguars Rout Ravens in London
09-24-2017 - Jaguars To Use "Home" Field Advantage vs. Ravens
09-22-2017 - Jaguars Say London Trip Is Pretty Routine
09-17-2017 - Jaguars 2017 Look Like Jaguars 2016 vs. Titans
09-13-2017 - Fournette Works In Relief Effort
09-13-2017 - Jaguars, Khan Help In Relief Effort
09-12-2017 - Jaguars Workout In Houston, Thinking Of Home
09-11-2017 - Jaguars Notes From Houston
09-10-2017 - Jaguars Don't Just Win, They Dominate Texans
09-01-2017 - Jaguars Decisions: Not Just "The 53"
08-23-2017 - Quarterback Decision Can Wait
08-18-2017 - Jaguars Step Backwards vs. Bucs
08-17-2017 - Jaguars Need A Big Step Forward vs. Bucs
08-10-2017 - Jaguars Better 1st Impression vs. Patriots
08-09-2017 - Bortles Better But Not Close To Brady
08-08-2017 - The PLAYERS In March Is The Right Fit
08-08-2017 - Jaguars/Patriots Practice: What It's Supposed To Look Like
08-07-2017 - Gipson Now Knows Tom Brady Is The Goat
08-05-2017 - Marrone's Jaguars Camp: Old Is New Again
07-28-2017 - Jaguars 2017: All About Blake
07-13-2017 - Kingfish Tournament Still Fishing
07-12-2017 - TPC Performance Center Will Make You Better
07-07-2017 - Players Is Big And Getting Bigger
06-29-2017 - Gators Baseball Win National Title
06-28-2017 - Gators Baseball National Champs
06-17-2017 - Bortles Knows This Is It
06-17-2017 - Marrone, Albert Lynchpins To Jaguars Success
06-10-2017 - Marrone Unimpressed In OTA's
05-24-2017 - Bortles On Being Bad, Better
05-15-2017 - Sunday Stroll For Si Woo Kim
05-12-2017 - Still Anybody's Tournament
05-11-2017 - Malik Jackson At The Players: "It's Pretty Dope"
05-10-2017 - Winning Score? TPC Stadium Is Firm And Fast
05-10-2017 - Sergio: Everybody's New Favorite
05-09b-2017 - THE PLAYERS In May Or March Is Still Huge
05-09-2017 - GJO To The Players Is A Long Trip
04-29-2017 - Jaguars Take "Bama OL In 2nd Round
04-28-2017 - Jaguars Take Fournette: "Physical"
04-27-2017 - Past Is Prologue For The Jaguars Draft
04-22-2017 - Jaguars Draft 2017: Take The Best Player
04-21-2017 - Nothing Good In The Jags 2017 Schedule
03-31-2017 - Mt. Acosta Classic Is Something Special
03-29-2017 - Marrone Looking For Competition, Consistency
03-28-2017 - Khan "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"
03-28-2017 - Coughlin "We Need A Culture Change"
03-26-2017 - NFL Owners Talk Player Safety, Shorter Games In Phoenix
03-19-2017 - Gators Swamp Virginia, Head To New York
03-19-2017 - FSU Can't Shoot, Loses To Xavier
03-14-2017 - DL3 In The HOF, Still Wants To Play
03-08-2017 - Jaguars Free-agency Preview: Plugging Holes
02-24-2017 - Shorter SpeedWeeks, Better Racing?
02-22-2017 - One Stop Sports Recovery (Now available to everybody)
02-07-2017 - The Case For Boselli In The Hall, And The Process It Entails
02-01-2017 - Coughlin Says Boselli "Should Be In The Hall Of Fame"
01-19-2017 - Hackett Stays As Jaguars OC
01-12-2017 - Coughlin, "Winning Is What It's All About"
01-11-2017 - Marrone Starts To Change The Staff
01-09-2017 - Marrone, Coughlin, Caldwell Try To "Fix" Jaguars
01-03-2017 - Boselli Makes Hall Of Fame Final 15
01-02-2017 - Jaguars To Compete For A Head Coach

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