Arrow pointing up for future, but Jaguars have Super Bowl goals this year

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 22: Head Coach Doug Pederson discusses a play with Quarterback Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Thursday Night Football game in the rain between the Jacksonville Jaguars vs the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images) (Al Pereira, 2022 Al Pereira)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars are a franchise on the rise.

The hot finish to the 2022 season and a still-underway playoff run are proof that the Jaguars are a team to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.

They will certainly be the consensus pick to win the AFC South next season.

Everyone in the locker room can sense it. The arrow is pointing up.

“We’re heading in the right direction, you can see the joy in their faces for where they’ve been and where we’re headed,” said head coach Doug Pederson. “I think that’s exciting for everybody and especially for those guys that have been here and suffered through some lean years. We’re just hoping to build off of this one and try to continue the success we’ve had this year.”

While the Jaguars are riding a six-game winning streak into Saturday’s divisional-round matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, they are still a nine-point underdog. Clearly, the betting public doesn’t see Jacksonville as a Super Bowl contender. At least not yet. The locker room disagrees.

“It’s always a positive when you’re in a work environment where you know that your team (is) going places and we feel like we’re doing a lot of things and going in the right direction,” tackle Walker Little said. “But at the same time, we’re not looking ahead. Our goals are in front of us and our goal is to try to win a Super Bowl this year. And we think we can do that with this group. We know to get there that we go one step at a time and this step is going to Kansas City trying to win.”

Little was a rookie last season when the Jaguars finished with the worst record in the NFL for the second straight season. For others who have been with the team longer, the contrast of success to failure has made for a happy season.

“The sky’s the limit for this team,” said tackle Jawaan Taylor. “The work we put in from the time we started OTAs to where we’re at now, it’s just coming to fruition. We’re excited to be here. And I feel like we deserve to be here for a lot of what we went through in the years past. It feels good to be in this position.”

If the Jaguars can pull the upset in Kansas City, the arrow will point up even higher. If they do not, Doug Pederson’s team will still be considered a contender. The window of opportunity has opened, and it should remain open as long as the coach and quarterback are on the same page.