1996, 2007 Jags teams make top 10 list of least likely playoff teams

The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t won much lately, which is why their performance in 2017 surprised May. But even if they were established winners, as they were in the late 1990s, they were still underdogs.

That’s exactly why they’ve twice made CBS Sports’ list of unlikely playoff teams. The 2017 Jags were the first team on the list, coming in at No. 8.

Here’s what analyst Jeff Kerr had to say about the group that became known as “Saxonville.”

The Jaguars earned the reputation of “Sack-sonville” after finishing second in the NFL with 55 sacks on the year. Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell were first-team All-Pros, and Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakue, Telvin Smith and AJ Bouye earned Pro Bowl berths. The defense allowed the second fewest points (16.8) and fewest passes (169.9) — ranking in the top five in every major pass defense category.

Then there was Blake Bortles, who threw for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns (84.7 rating) in his best season. Jacksonville’s leading receiver was Keelan Cole (748 yards, three touchdowns), while Leonard Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards and nine scores in his rookie season. The offense finished fifth (26.1) in points per game and sixth in total yards (365.9).

The 2017 season was one to remember as the front office pulled it all together in the offseason. With Tom Coughlin joining the mix, general manager Dave Caldwell then put together a fantastic free agency class that included Calais Campbell and AJ Bouye. He added that with celebrities already on the team such as Jalen Ramsey, Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue and Paul Posluszny to name a few.

All of these moves have led to the construction of one of the best defenses ever built in the last decade. The team also had some players on the offensive line who were also talented, such as Leonard Fournette and Allen Robinson (although he missed the season with a torn ACL).

Unfortunately, the Jags mixed in a lot of wrong people at both the front office and player level, and it all fell apart. As a result, the success was short-lived and the 2017 Jags were a one-hit wonder.

As for the second team on the list, the 1996 Jags were placed second.

A second-year football team made its conference championship game? How on earth did that happen? The Jaguars and Carolina Panthers made their respective conference championship games in 1996, but the Jaguars’ success was more remarkable.

Handed the reins as franchise quarterback, Mark Brunell made the Pro Bowl – throwing for 4,367 yards with 19 touchdowns and 20 interceptions (84.0 rating). Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell were the best kept secrets in football as Smith had 1,244 receiving yards while McCardell finished with 1,129 (and a Pro Bowl appearance). Tony Boselli was excellent on the offensive line, making the first of five straight Pro Bowls.

The 1996 Jags were a team full of underrated talent, and they were able to put it all together after a 4-7 start that eventually turned into a 9-7 regular season record. Now, in hindsight, it’s easy to see why they had the talent to do it, as Tony Boselli is now the first Jaguar to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and people have made the case for Jimmy Smith and Coughlin coaching The 1996 Jags will also be there.

When the Jags made the postseason, they were able to eliminate two teams that were better than them, starting with the Buffalo Bills, then the Denver Broncos in the next round. All of the aforementioned names in the article played a huge role in those wins and cemented themselves in Jags history this postseason.

Many in the football community project the current Jags to win six games. However, with a coach like Doug Pederson, they have the chance to shock some and potentially take the same path to the postseason as the 201 and 1999 Jags did.

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