Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

Magical run ends as Jaguars fall at Chiefs in divisional round

todayJanuary 21, 2023


By Hays Carlyon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – This will be the last time the Jaguars are double-digit underdogs for a long while.

Perhaps years.

Perhaps a decade.

The losing is over.

A magical season ended Saturday in the AFC Divisional Round as the mistake-riddled Jaguars lost to Kansas City 27-20 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs, favored by 10 points, didn’t commit a turnover while the Jaguars had two.

There is certainly sadness that the spectacular six-game winning streak finally ended.

But be excited.

There is so much to be thankful for this season: a 10-win season, after winning four games the previous two years combined.

We saw quarterback Trevor Lawrence grow up midseason, putting any doubts about his future to doubt with some remarkable performances in engineering some improbable comebacks.

The 23-year-old will take another massive step next season.

Why? Because he has the right head coach.

Doug Pederson worked wonders in his first season, earning Coach of the Year consideration.

He has built a winning program, cultivating a team with genuine connections and friendships. That was evident in the emotional postgame locker room. Pederson is also arguably the best play caller the Jaguars have ever had in their history.

Maligned general manager Trent Baalke earned a healthy dose of redemption. He signed a tremendous crop of free agents: receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, inside linebacker Foye Oluokun, right guard Brandon Scherff and outside linebacker Arden Key were all great investments in their first year.

Baalke has already made the first significant move of the offseason trading for standout receiver Calvin Ridley before the deadline. Ridley was serving a season-long suspension but is expected to be reinstated in the coming months.

Baalke also has a first-round pick (No. 24 overall) to aid in the improvement of the team’s young nucleus.

Running back Travis Etienne rebounded from a Lisfranc injury that cost him his entire rookie season. Etienne finished the season with 1,642 yards of offense counting the playoffs. He will be better in the 2023 season.

Cornerback Tyson Campbell turned a spectacular training camp into a brilliant second season. He will continue to elevate his play in his third season.

I’m excited to see the draft class develop in Year 2. Outside linebacker Travon Walker, inside linebacker Devin Lloyd, center Luke Fortner and inside linebacker Chad Muma all had more ups than downs.

There is so much to be excited about.

This team was special and could prove to be even more so in the coming years.

The fans needed this season. The city needed this season.

As the process of renovating TIAA Bank Field begins, it was important for decision makers to be reminded of just how much this franchise means to this community.

Seeing the throngs of Jaguars fans so enthralled over the last two months has been a vivid example of the unifying nature of sports.

That excitement is here to stay.

There certainly will be moments where we all wonder how did the Jaguars give up a 98-yard touchdown drive to backup Chad Henne when Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes was temporarily out with an ankle injury?

There will be moments when we look back on the several other gaffes the Jaguars made Saturday and frustration will arise.

But you will ultimately remember the good times and you will smile.

Thank you, Jaguars.

Our expectations will now rise. We expect to defend the AFC South title.

We want to be the last team standing one day.

But you maxed out your potential this season.

That’s all that can be asked of you.

(You can email Hays at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).

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Hays Carlyon's Jaguars Blog

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