JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One ownership change, two in-season coaching firings, six starting quarterbacks and eight losing seasons.
There isn't much Marcedes Lewis hasn't experienced during his time with the Jaguars. Now in his twelfth season, Lewis is the only player remaining from the last time the team made the playoffs in 2007.
“I’ve been here from the worst to now the best of it,” said Lewis.
Sunday’s wild-card game against the Buffalo Bills will be the third playoff game of Lewis’ career. It will also be the first time the Jaguars tight end has the opportunity to experience the post-season in front of the home fans here in Jacksonville.
“That’s exciting really exciting,” said Lewis. “I’ve always said the fans being in those seats and us winning games is a partnership. They want to see us win games and we want to see them in those seats. That means a lot to us. Obviously that was the goal coming into the season and it’s good to see it finally happen.”
Internally the Jaguars have had the confidence they could make it to this point since training camp began in late July. Outside of that locker room there weren’t many people that shared the same optimism.
The Jaguars 10-6 record this year is the first time they finished a season above .500 since their last playoff berth in 2007. Lewis admits that were times when he doubted if he’d ever get back to the postseason.
“You think about that all the time,” said Lewis. If you can honestly go home and say to you’re going to go the playoffs every single year, unless you’re the Patriots [New England] I don’t see that happening. That’s something that is super extraordinary and very hard. The parity in this league is so good. There’s no margin for error.”
Just as there is blame to be passed along when a team is losing, credit needs to be distributed for why the Jaguars have experienced a 7-win improvement from 2016 to 2017. It could be the additions in free agency, selecting the right players in the draft or the improved play of quarterback Blake Bortles.
The one thing all those factors have in common is that they were influenced by bringing in Tom Coughlin as the Executive VP of Football Operations and making Doug Marrone the head coach. The pairing of the two couldn’t have gone any smoother and together they’ve began the process of changing the culture of the Jaguars.
“I just think that they put pressure on you to be a pro,” said Lewis. “So if you’re not a pro then things aren’t going to be comfortable for you. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve seen a lot and being the fact that I was here when we weren’t doing well. To climbing out of that hole and right now we’re doing so much better as a team. Not just on the field, but internally. As an organization we’re better from top to bottom and I’m proud to be part of that.”