What Wild-Card Weekend Can Teach the Jaguars

Jan 07, 2014 -- 1:42pm

By Will Brown (@wwbrown19)

The Jaguars are enduring the longest stretch without a playoff game in team history. After watching Wild Card Weekend it became apparent why: Jacksonville has not been successful in recent years at overcoming on-field adversity or drafting and developing players.

General Manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley did a good job of identifying and developing players last spring, as evidenced by five of the eight draftees playing in at least 15 games, but the two have to replicate that success if Jacksonville is to play meaningful January football for the first time since 2007.

Caldwell and Bradley also have to do more than hit the jackpot with the No. 3 overall selection. The pair must find a quarterback as well as multiple players who can become productive at the professional level.

Why is that imperative? The teams that are still playing on the best weekend in football have been able to overcome adversity and develop players.

Six of the eight quarterbacks remaining in this year’s playoffs were drafted by their teams. The two who weren’t: Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. And both of them were Pro Bowl-caliber players that were coming off injury when signed by New Orleans and Denver respectively.

Speaking of the Broncos, most of us are well aware that Denver broke the scoring record this year because Manning was at his best. But, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and leading rusher Knowshon Moreno were all drafted by the Broncos, so was the club’s leading tackler Danny Trevathan. Seattle, the No. 1 seed in the NFC, was constructed in a similar way. Of the six Seahawks that made the Pro Bowl five were drafted by the club. More impressively, only one of those team draftees, Earl Thomas, was selected in the first round.

Denver and Seattle are two of five remaining teams that played the Jaguars this year. Obviously, all five beat Jacksonville, but the mental toughness and team building those five teams have showcased are things the Jaguars could emulate.

T.Y. Hilton set a Colts franchise record for most receiving yards in a playoff game Saturday. Of the four turnovers San Diego forced during the club’s 27-10 win over Cincinnati Sunday three were by team draftees. As for San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree were all drafted by the franchise.

As for the overcoming adversity, Indianapolis overcame a 28-point deficit; San Diego has won five-straight “must win” games and San Francisco won in sub-zero temperatures this weekend.

The Jags, during this barren playoff patch, have yet to prove they have the resiliency that resembles any of those three franchises. When that does return to Northeast Florida, something many believe Bradley will bring to the franchise, then the teal and black will be back.

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