When the owner of an NFL franchise says the fans have suffered long enough, you know there might be a bit frustration brewing from that kind of statement.
That’s the exact thing Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan said recently in an interview with Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The man who bought the struggling organization from Wayne Weaver in 2011 says he hopes things are about to change for the Jaguars and for the fans who have supported the team.
“I think we’ve suffered long enough,” Khan said, chuckling during a recent phone interview with USA TODAY Sports. “It’s been painful.”
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This has been anything other than a quick fix for one of the worst NFL franchises in the past decade. Khan hired general manager David Caldwell in 2013, who hired head coach Gus Bradley shortly after he took over for former GM Gene Smith. Some far, the excitement of building something from the ground up has been exciting. The results, however, have been a bit disheartening.
If anyone wants a winning season, it’s the man who continually opens his checkbook to sign players in free agency and the NFL Draft, as well as make improvements to the facilities at EverBank Field.
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If media types are right and their projects stay true to form, this should be a better team in 2016 – one that could challenge for a playoff berth. Those words alone – playoff team – make everyone in north Florida pretty happy.
Still, there is a lot of work to do. The Jaguars were cut down, gutted and reshaped into a roster that took longer than the new regime probably anticipated. Now the chess pieces are in place, and the right players have hopefully been added. Anything less than progress could mean a slate wiped clean in 2017. This is a team as many have suggested, that is built to win in 2016 be better in 2017 and beyond.
Khan’s belief in the system both Caldwell and Bradley preach on a daily basis is the reason for the optimism and the main reason both may still have a job today.
“We’ve been fortunate where Shad’s given us four good years to build this and get this up to what we feel is a competitive NFL team,” Caldwell said. “This is the first offseason where I think we’re all excited going into the season of, hey, we’ve got a chance now. And we’ll see what happens.”
Seeing is believing in this case. But if the team needs any motivation, all it has to do is look at Oakland, Tampa Bay and Atlanta – teams that are building on losing platforms and appear poised to join the postseason if not this season, then next and in the future.
If Jack Del Rio can win with the Raiders and Dan Quinn can win with the Falcons and Dirk Koetter can do it with the Buccaneers, then Bradley and his staff had better do it in the AFC South.
Khan has always been an “All in” type of owner and has been instrumental in remaining involved in every aspect of this team. It’s hard not to like that kind of support. But if the current regime wants to remain in the same capacity next year, it has to win now.
The fans aren’t the only ones who have suffered enough. It appears the team’s owner is in the same boat.