The Jags went from three wins in 2016 to the verge of a Super Bowl bid, which tied the NFL record for fewest wins in the previous season prior to making it to the conference championship. By most modes of thinking, Doug Marrone's team had a great year. Surely there are positives to take even from the loss to the Patriots.
"Nah, there ain't no positives in no Ls. I'll be real with you all," cornerback Jalen Ramsey said after the 24-20 defeat. "Everybody trying to tell you all, 'We're taking this out of that, we're taking that out of that.' We had one goal today, that was to get to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do that. We took an L. So we have to go back to the drawing board for next year and do more than what we did today."
The drawing board doesn't need to be fully erased. The Jags boast a young core that should keep them battling for the AFC South title for years to come. The defense boasts a smothering set of playmakers who haven't yet hit their prime. Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler each are just scratching the surface of what's possible. On offense, rookies Leonard Fournette and Cam Robinson are foundational pieces, while first-year receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook showed promise on the outside.
Remember, the Jaguars played almost the entire season without No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson, who is set to be a free agent. Robinson, Aaron Colvin, Marqise Lee, Patrick Omameh and Paul Posluszny are set to be the Jags' top free agents this offseason.
Despite all the positives about the Jags' year, Ramsey wasn't in the mood to spin optimistic after the Patriots' loss.
"We played all right, we didn't win, though, so that's what matters at the end of the day," he said. "It's tough, though. We had bigger goals, bigger aspirations, but, I mean, we are pretty pissed off about not winning but at the end of the day we've got to reflect on the season and straddle ourselves to a point that we can learn from each other. To be out there, did our thing to make it this far, but we've got to figure out a way to make it back and then do a little bit extra to make it to the next level."
The big question for Jags executive vice president Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell is whether Blake Bortles will be the man leading the Jags to that next level. The coaching staff coaxed as much as they could from the maligned quarterback this season, and he played exceedingly well early Sunday. But it became clear the coaches didn't trust the QB enough in the second half. Against Tom Brady, that's not going to get it done.