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Shad Khan encouraged about Jaguars' future: 'I think we've cracked the code'

The strides made during Jacksonville's memorable 2022 campaign have Jaguars owner Shad Khan brimming with excitement.

In what was Doug Pederson's first year as head coach, the revamped Jaguars persevered through a rough start to eventually claim the AFC South title, which befittingly set the table for a historic comeback win in the playoffs.

It saw the unmistakable growth of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who put up career-high numbers to earn his first Pro Bowl nod and provided an assuring outlook for Jacksonville at the league's most demanding position. The success also came after general manager Trent Baalke signed several big-money free agents that all found success under Pederson, and much of last year's playoff-caliber roster remains intact going into the follow-up season.

Because of the structure now in place, Khan expressed his belief that Jacksonville has what it takes to maintain that success in 2023 and beyond.

"The vibe I get (around this week's meetings) is I think we've cracked the code," Khan said, via the team's website. "We have a great head coach, we have a great general manager, and we have a great quarterback.

"That's the trifecta for success in the NFL."

This wasn't Khan's first brush with success after purchasing the club in 2011. The Jaguars reached the AFC Championship Game in 2017, but Doug Marrone's squad was unable to produce a winning record in any of the following three seasons. His replacement, Urban Meyer, was the splash hire Khan hoped would right the ship in 2021, but the decorated collegiate coach was fired after a 2-11 start.

Following such a tumultuous season, Khan credited Pederson's "self-belief, belief in the team and belief in the process" that spurred a newfound confidence in Jacksonville.

"The players believed in each other," Khan said. "They believed in the coaches and they believed they were destined to win."

Winning seven of their last nine regular-season games, including a Week 18 triumph over the division rival Tennessee Titans to claim the AFC South, the Jaguars' 2022 campaign took an even more dramatic turn in the playoffs.

Down 27-0 late in the first half of a wild-card clash against the Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville scratched and clawed its way back toward a thrilling 31-30 victory. The comeback was the third-largest in NFL postseason history, trailing only Andrew Luck's Colts defeating the Chiefs nine years ago (-28) and Frank Reich's Bills ousting the Oilers 30 years prior (-32).

Khan believes that two-week stretch under the bright lights was especially critical for a franchise that was often absent both on the national stage and in late January.

"We hadn't had a prime-time game in my ownership," Khan said of the Week 18 showdown versus the Titans. "We hadn't earned it. We didn't deserve it. Here, we earned it. We deserve it. So, we get two in a row. Both of them are packed, including standing-room only tickets. Then to see the fans at both of the games hanging in. We're down 27-0 and no one leaves.

"That shows really the enthusiasm, the belief the fans had. I know it made a huge difference for Trevor. He looked up and saw no one had left. There was a huge vote of confidence in him."

Jacksonville ultimately fell to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round, but the Jaguars should return with great confidence in 2023 after that playoff run. With Lawrence entering a consecutive year under Pederson's offensive system and a young defense gaining a wealth of experience, the elements are there for the Jaguars to sustain success the success that Khan has been longing for.

"I think it's taken a while, but I'm glad it's happening," Khan said. "I'm glad for all the fans."

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