It was, by some accounts, a miracle that Jacksonville was granted the 30th football franchise in the NFL. It was at the very least an upset. Jacksonville was believed to be the underdog in a finalist list that included St. Louis and Baltimore (both of which would eventually get NFL teams), but handily won the necessary vote (26-2).
And so it began. The Jaguars 1995 season was not only a season of firsts for professional football in Jacksonville, but also the beginning of an era.
Led by General Manager and Head Coach Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars made several moves in assembling their 1995 expansion roster that would go on to mark the franchise throughout the 1990s, including the drafting of future Ring-of-Honor member Tony Boselli (Left Tackle), the signing of street free agent Jimmy Smith (who would go on to have a borderline Hall of Fame career with the Jags), and the draft-day trade acquisition of Quarterback Mark Brunell, who would serve as the team's leader and signal caller until 2003.
The Jaguars, like many expansion teams, got off to a rough start, opening the season 0-4. Its first win wouldn't come until Week 5 against the Houston Oilers when quarterback Mark Brunell replaced an injured Steve Beuerlein late in the fourth quarter and rallied the Jaguars for a 17-16 comeback win.
The 1995 Jacksonville Jaguars weren't a very good team, finishing with a mediocre 4-12 record. They were, however, a team with plenty of upside and young talent, all of which would develop in the following years.
Scrambling quarterback Mark Brunell finished the season completing 58.1% of his passes for 2168 yards, 15 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He also led all starting quarterbacks with 480 rushing yards and added 4 touchdowns on the ground.
Wide receiver Willie Jackson lead the club with 53 catches. Tight end Pete Mitchell was second with 41 catches. Jimmy Smith didn't break out in 1995 -- that wouldn't come until the following year. He finished 1995 with 22 catches in a reserve role.
How do you measure success for a first-year team? If the club's record is the only indicator, then 1995 was a massive failure. But one can't be so limiting. The 1995 Jaguars didn't win much, and with the exception of their young quarterback, didn't have many exciting players. But what the 1995 Jaguars did was establish a foundation and identify core players that lead lead to the team's success in the late '90s.
With that said, it's hard to identify the team's inaugural season as a failure, despite the Jaguars' record.