JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With one win, the Jaguars of 2014 sit near the bottom of the 20 teams who have worn the teal and black of the franchise since it's inception in 1995. This week's Top 20 is the best Jaguars teams, top to bottom in their 20 years of existence.
At the top is the 1999 team that went 14-2 in the regular season, demolished Miami in their first playoff game and lost to Tennessee at home if the AFC Title game despite leading 14-10 at halftime. That team had single digit rankings across the board including being the top ranked team in defensive points given up. They're a clear cut #1.
From there it actually gets a little tricky. It would be easy to put the 1996 team here because they played in the Conference championship game but there are a few other contenders for that spot as well. The '97 and '98 teams were playoff teams while the 2005 club went 12-4 during the regular season. We'll put the '96 team second because they got hot in the playoffs and had two historic wins on the road in Denver and Buffalo.
We'll follow that with the '97 team with all of those Pro Bowlers on it and the '98 squad that went 11-5 with the 2005 and 2007 playoff teams in the top six.
There are a lot of very average teams after that but the 2004 team had a winning record at 9-7 so they'll go in at seven. Eight and eight teams of 2010 and 2006 would be 8 and nine. Both teams were huge disappointments under head coach Jack Del Rio, losing their last three games (needing only one win) to be eliminated from playoff contention.
The 7-9 team in 2000 is 10th because they were actually a decent football team that couldn't get out of their own way. They suffered through a 5 game losing streak in the middle of the year and lost their last two games to finish under .500 for the first time in 5 years.
Historically, the Jaguars have had a losing record in 10 of their 20 years, including this year and 6 of the last eight. The last time the Jaguars had a winning record was 2007. So the 6-10 teams of 2001 and 2002 are in the 11th and 12th spots. It was the end of the Tom Coughlin era and when the Jaguars were going to have to pay for some salary cap issues. Even Del Rio lauded Coughlin's coaching job with a thin roster for those two squads.
The first year team finished 4-12 but got the most out of the talent on the roster and is in at the 13th spot. Probably should have won only a couple of games in the expansion year. Behind that squad is the7-9 team under Del Rio in 2009 despite being 6-4 after 10 games, they lost 5 of their last six including their last 4 straight to start the end of Del Rio's coaching career here.
In 2003, 2008 and 20011, all under Del Rio, the Jaguars went 5-11 and were never considered a contender.
Which brings us to the bottom 3. Hard to say if this year's team will get any better but we'll list them at 17 because at least they have a better roster than the past two. Last year's team probably was good enough to get four wins so they're in at 19. And at the bottom of the list is the 2012 team. Mike Mularkey took the head coaching job knowing that it was a massive rebuild and said frequently, "We'll take our lumps" noting privately the lack of talent on the roster. But he never got a chance to put his plan in place, being dismissed after just one year along with General Manager Gene Smith. That roster probably had about two wins in it, and earned both.
Disagree? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them with the #JagsTop20 and we'll talk about it this week on Jaguars Friday Night.