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2020 Was an Ugly, Winding Road for the Jaguars, but One That Ends With Trevor Lawrence

Was the rough 2020 season worth it for the Jaguars? The answer depends on who you ask, but it will remain rooted in the successes or failures of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
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There is zero questioning the cruelty and the haplessness that has defined the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2020 season ... but could it all have been worth it? That is the question the Jaguars are now faced with, but one that has a relatively easy answer.

For those who have gone to work at 1 TIAA Bank Field Dr., each day for the past year, the answer is clearly a resounding no. The current players and coaches don't put in the amount of effort and energy that they do just to end up with, at best, a 2-14 record.

But for those who support the team -- those in Jacksonville's stadium who let out resounding cheers each time the Chicago Bears scored in the 41-17 blowout loss on Sunday -- the last three months of futile football has likely been worth the losses because, at the end of the day, the long and winding road has led to the No. 1 overall pick and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

There has never been any point in Jaguars history where they have held the top pick in the draft or had a shoo-in chance at a generational quarterback. They have had chances at those types of passers in the past; but not like this, and not like Lawrence. 

That doesn't erase the sting of 14-straight losses, the longest losing streak in team history. Nor does it erase the fact that the Jaguars allowed Mitch Trubisky to drop 41 points on them at home. Nor does it change the reality of Jacksonville falling from the AFC's second-best team in 2017 to the league's worst just three seasons later.

But it does mean that, for at least a fleeting moment, those points of downtrodden play may have been worth it for Jacksonville's future. 

And thanks to the New York Jets picking up a win in Week 16 -- the same win that guaranteed the top pick for the Jaguars -- Jacksonville's roster and coaching staff can attempt to mitigate the failures of 2020 in Week 17 without impacting the team's draft status.

"We can fight for so long and then we just have to continue and get 60 minutes out of it. We have one more game left," Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said after the game Sunday. 

"Like I told the team, I told them after the game 2020’s been s*****. We all know that. I said but the way I look at it is we have ourselves a game starting in 2021, so let’s make this change. Let’s just change this thing. I think these guys, they care about each other in the locker room. They’re consoling each other. It’s difficult, but again, you’re not getting a lot of people pointing fingers. You’re not getting people that want to pick themselves out of the game. You’re getting guys that are going in there and trying. We’re just not making plays and at the end of the day, we’re not playing well enough. That’s on all of us.”

The race to Lawrence has been on since before Week 1. Teams have had his name circled since he was a Clemson freshman. But it doesn't mean any smooth pathway was set for the Jaguars or any other team.

The 2020 season will go down as one of the worst in Jaguars' history. They haven't been blown out weekly like in 2013 or 2014, but the record is the record. Jacksonville is just four more quarters of bad football away from finishing 1-15 for the first time in franchise history and worse than 3-13 for just the second time. 

2020 also saw the Jaguars ship off the remnants of the last good Jaguars team. Fan-favorites such as Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue were traded, while former No. 4 overall pick Leonard Fournette was released 13 days before Week 1. 

Add in the fact that the Jaguars have faced countless injuries, have had to play journeyman backups at key spots throughout the entire roster, and the fact that they have started three different quarterbacks (separated into five different tenures starter), and there is little doubt that 2020 has been an egregiously bad year for the Jaguars.

But while this year was a season filled with long, ugly Sunday afternoons, there is now a great chance that those Sundays have led to something much greater. 

Was it worth it? It depends on who you ask. But for now, we at least know the 2020 season will end with the team's best chance to ever draft a top quarterback.