Jaguars' owner elated about playoff berth
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- No members of the current coaching staff and only three current players (tight end Marcedes Lewis, quarterback Chad Henne and linebacker Paul Posluszny) were on the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster in 2012, the first season under the ownership of Shad Khan.
When Khan bought the franchise, he knew there would be some growing pains. Khan had to endure five losing seasons in which the Jaguars compiled a league-worst mark of 17-63.
That's what makes the 10-4 record this season special. Khan was as happy as a child on Christmas morning when he met with local writers following the Jaguars' win Sunday against Houston, which clinched their first playoff berth since 2007.
"It's unbelievable. To win it and win it the way we did today, mind-blowing," Khan said in a rare interview. "Really, really grateful, obviously, and proud of the players, the football leadership and the fans. Especially, the last two games, have given us the energy, put it over the top. It's been awesome."
During the lean years, Khan refused to let the degrading talk about his team get under his skin.
"I had been through life when I was a laughingstock in whatever business I was in, auto parts or what have you," he said. "You have to stay in it and success comes. It's a story of perseverance."
The players were more guarded in their reaction after their convincing 45-7 win over the Texans.
"It's huge (making the playoffs)," veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said. "Any time you get a chance to punch a ticket to the playoffs, that's awesome, but I want to encourage the guys to stay focused because we have a lot of work to do. Just stay in the moment and enjoy the ride.
"We have a lot of work (to do). It's not going to make life any easier but at the end of the day, we want to have a standard every time we touch the field. It's a certain standard we expect when we eliminate our mistakes and stay focused we're a tough team to beat."
The Jaguars are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and would have been the No. 2 seed had Pittsburgh hung on to beat New England. That would have given the Jaguars a first-round bye followed by a home playoff game.
Now they need wins over San Francisco and Tennessee and hope for an unexpected loss by either New England or Pittsburgh in one of the final two weeks.
The Jaguars clinched a playoff berth for the seventh time in the franchise's 23-year history. It also marked their first 10-win season since 2007 when they finished 11-5 and made their last playoff appearance. It was the team's sixth home victory, matching the 6-2 mark posted by the 2007 team.
REPORT CARD VS TEXANS
--PASSING OFFENSE: A-plus -- A career day for Blake Bortles. He completed 21-of-29 passes (72.4 percent, second best this season) for 326 yards and three touchdowns. His 143.8 passer rating was his career best, and it was the third game in a row that Bortles has registered 119.8 or higher in that department. Bortles' downfield accuracy continues to be solid as evidenced by several long throws downfield.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The Jaguars gained 138 yards on the ground and all came from three running backs, none of whom were named Leonard Fournette, the team's leading rusher who sat out the game due to a quad injury. The team's No. 4 rusher, Corey Grant, led the way with 69 yards on just 10 carries.
--PASS DEFENSE: A -- The Jaguars held the Texans to just 128 yards through the air, which is just a shade above the 117.4 mark that they were allowing opponents this year. But with four sacks knocking off 29 yards, Houston finished with just 99 net yards. In the Texans' lone drive of the day, they connected on five of six passes for 82 yards. The rest of the game, Houston connected on 7-of-25 passes for 17 net yards. The Jaguars' front four put pressure on T.J. Yates throughout the game. The Jaguars had four sacks and one interception.
--RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- Jacksonville allowed 87 yards in 21 attempts (4.1 yards per carry), which is 30 yards less than what the Jaguars had been allowing this year. Jacksonville contained the Texans' two runners, Alfred Blue and Lamar Miller, only allowing one run of 10 yards or more. The Texans only gained three first downs with running plays.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus -- The kick return game prospered in both punting and kickoff returns. Corey Grant had a pair of kickoff returns for 44 total yards. Brad Nortman punted five times for a net 44.5 average with only one kick returned. Josh Lambo converted his 16th field goal out of 17 attempts. Only a handful of silly penalties on special teams kept this from being an A grade.
--COACHING: A -- After the Jaguars' lopsided win over the Texans, head coach Doug Marrone admitted he was apprehensive before the game when he noticed a subdued locker room. "I was probably a little bit nervous -- it was the quietest our locker room has been before a game. I was thinking to myself, 'I hope these guys aren't getting tight now.'" The Jaguars obviously weren't. They dominated the Texans, an indication that the coaching staff had done its part to have the team prepared.