Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Emotions Run High During Locker Room Cleanout: "...I'm Not Settling for Mediocrity"

0109 - Tuesday Update - Player Cleanout

JACKSONVILLEChristian Kirk spoke pointedly, and he wasn't alone.

The Jaguars' veteran wide receiver and locker-room leader on Monday discussed the season that ended this past Sunday. He discussed, too, goals for the offseason and the future.

"We're here to win championships," Kirk said.

Kirk spoke Monday, a day after the Jaguars' season ended with a 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the '23 regular-season finale. The Jaguars entered Sunday needing a victory to win a second AFC South title. The loss meant they missed the postseason – and as players met with coaches and prepared for the offseason Monday, their message was clear:

The results of '23 weren't good enough and the offseason must be about improvement.

"There are things we can do better moving forward," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrencesaid. "There are things I can do better moving forward. I need to play better consistently. Those things are disappointing. I know we're going to be better for it. I have no doubt about that."

Added Lawrence, "It all comes down to Week 18 and we control if we get into the playoffs and we're not able to deliver. So that's disappointing."

The Jaguars, after winning their last five regular-season games last season to win their first AFC South title in five seasons, started the 2023 season 8-3 and led the Houston Texans by two games. They lost five of their last six games and lost to the Titans (6-11) Sunday after beating them 37-17 in Jacksonville in November.

"This is going to haunt me for a long time," Jaguars inside linebacker Foyesade Oluokunsaid. "Not the last game, the last stretch to the last game. We're scratching and clawing just trying to get back to who we were. But at the end of the day, who we were is what we were putting on film week in, week out at the end of the season.

"It's definitely not how I want to be. That's how I feel as a player right now, just that last stretch. I want to get back to winning football in this locker room."

LB Foyesade Oluokun

Kirk called the end of the season "humbling."

"I think for the core and the foundational pieces in this organization, it just opens our eyes to where we're at," he said. "None of us are going to sit here and be content with where we're at. We all know there's a long way for us to go and we're just not there yet to being a championship team. It adds more motivation and a sense of reflection of just doing everything that we can to keep progressing.

"At least for me, as long as I'm here, I'm not settling for mediocrity and not making the playoffs."

The Jaguars won five consecutive games after a 1-2 start. Players and coaches talked often during the final months of the season about the need to eliminate avoidable mistakes, missed assignments, turnovers and other unforced errors.

"It's hard to win in the NFL," Oluokun said. "We had a winning streak early. Maybe younger guys think it's just natural like that, maybe get a little relaxed, but it's not sweet. It never is. A lot of people play their whole careers and don't make the playoffs.

"It's hard to win no matter who you play. You have to put that winning effort, even when you go home, the winning effort to watch in film and be a professional, week in and week out."

Running back Travis Etienne Jr., the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. on Sunday rushed for 57 yards on 16 carries yards to finish the season with 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing, his second consecutive season with more than 1,000 yards rushing. On Monday, he spoke of the need for urgency moving forward.

RB Travis Etienne Jr.

"It's going to be very huge," Etienne said. "This is my third season, going to my fourth season. I feel like football doesn't last forever. Our careers don't last forever and we have such a short window to chase a championship and that's what we got into this for. That's what we came here for. That's why they drafted us, to come here and bring a Super Bowl for Duval."

Etienne was far from alone in that thought Monday, a day when players packed earlier than they wanted and spoke of a 2024 season they know must end on a higher note than the one that ended Sunday.

"We thought we were going to go a lot further this year," Lawrence said. "The reality is we weren't able to do that. It's disappointing and you have to live with that. You have to live with the result and move on, but there's a lot to learn and we're going to learn from it. We're going to be better for it and I know it's going to make me a better player. I know it's going to make our team better.

"Maybe it's just one of those things where we needed this to get to where we're eventually going to be."

Related Content