13 days from now, two franchises will be fighting for a place in football history. The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes will try to repeat as Super Bowl champions, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady will attempt to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Florida.
Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars began a new mission to build toward becoming what the Chiefs and Buccaneers are now — Super Bowl teams.
The Jaguars brought sweeping changes to the coaching staff by firing head coach Doug Marrone and replacing him with longtime college coach Urban Meyer. Meanwhile, fired general manager Dave Caldwell was replaced with interim general manager and former San Francisco 49ers front office leader Trent Baalke.
There are new leaders inside of TIAA Bank Field. Now, they have to figure out a way to get within reach of a Super Bowl birth. Obviously, they first have to become competitive following a 1-15 finish in 2020, but the Super Bowl is the end goal for every regime.
So, how can the Jaguars best duplicate what the Chiefs and Buccaneers have done to advance to the greatest stage in sports?
They can't clone a football unicorn like Mahomes or sign the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history like Tampa Bay did with Brady, but they can look at how each team built around their star quarterbacks.
The Jaguars currently hold the No. 1 overall pick and are expected to use it to acquire their own franchise quarterback in Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. If Lawrence becomes even a fraction as accomplished as the Jaguars quarterback as as either of Mahomes or Brady have been throughout their careers, it would be a seismic shift for the Jaguars' fortunes.
But for the Jaguars to best set Lawrence up for success, they should follow the models the Chiefs and Buccaneers have displayed. Getting the elite quarterback is the tough part, but what the team does around that quarterback is nearly just as important.
There are countless examples of teams getting the quarterback position right but everything else wrong. The Chiefs and Buccaneers are each examples of getting both the quarterback and the offensive ecosystem around the franchise signal-caller correct, and that is the main reason each is in the Super Bowl.
With that said, it is important to note that Kansas City had the opportunity to provide Mahomes with an ideal situation from the moment he was drafted due to the presence of Alex Smith. The Jaguars don't have this luxury, clearly, and won't have an offense ready-made with stars for their new quarterback like the Chiefs and Buccaneers had.
But stacking the offense with enough talent to make any other team's supporting case pale in comparison in most weeks is the exact kind of lesson the Jaguars should take from this year's Super Bowl teams.
Both the Chiefs (No. 9) and Buccaneers (No. 3) rank in the top-10 of spending in terms of cap space devoted to the offense in 2020, according to Spotrac. For comparison, the Jaguars' offense ranked No. 31 last year.
The Buccaneers specifically have four non-quarterbacks who take up at least 4% of the team's 2020 cap space. This involves two offensive linemen (Donovan Smith, Ryan Jensen) and two skill players (Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski). Then you can factor in other highly paid offensive players such as Ali Marpet and Leonard Fournette and multiple recent top-90 draft picks such as Chris Godwin, Ronald Jones, and O.J. Howard before his injury, and the Buccaneers have poured countless resources into their offense.
It is because of these investments that Brady was able to hit the ground running in Tampa Bay. He finished the season third in the league in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns. Now, Brady and the Buccaneers have won three postseason games in a row and are one more win away from being champions.
Then there is the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were both already in place when Mahomes became the starting quarterback, but the Chiefs have made each player among the highest-paid at their positions in the last two years.
The Chiefs didn't stop building their offense up once they discovered they had the best quarterback in the league either. Their top draft picks in each of the last two drafts have been on the offensive side of the ball with Mecole Hardman in 2019 and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
In short, both the Chiefs and Buccaneers already figured out the quarterback position. They had the greatest gift in football. But they also ensured their quarterback's talents didn't go to waste. Each was given the best weapons possible at every level of the offense, a lesson the Jaguars should study intently.
The Jaguars have some talented offensive players with DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., James Robinson, and Collin Johnson, but the work shouldn't be done. While some may see their core group of offensive skill players and think the Jaguars shouldn't continue to pour extensive resources into the position groups, this simply isn't the case.
The Jaguars' offense needs more speed, more playmakers, and more points. If this involves spending significant amounts of cap space or premium picks, then that is the cost of winning. Lawrence will be a giant assets, but he can't do it alone.
Neither the Buccaneers or Chiefs ever settled when it came to pass-catching options, blockers, and running backs. Yes, the quarterbacks were the biggest pieces of the puzzle, but they weren't the only pieces. Kansas City and Tampa Bay realized this and it has become a giant reason why each is four quarters away from Super Bowl rings.
The Jaguars will soon have their own star quarterback to build around. If they are wise, they will ensure he is surrounding by playmakers everywhere he turns.