The Jaguars 2004 season was the second season of the Jack Del Rio coaching era, and the first season long-time Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell was not a member of the team since the club's inception in 1995. Brunell, after controversially losing his job after the first few games in 2003, was traded to the Washington Redskins.
Related: Meet Jaguars New Coach Mike Mularkey
This cleared the way for 2003 first-round draft choice Byron Leftwich to take the reigns. Leftwich and the Jaguars struggled at times and flourished at others. The second-year pro finished the season with a respectable 82.2 quarterback rating, nearly 3,000 yards, 15 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.
The Jaguars selected WR Reggie Williams with their first-round pick, hoping to give Leftwich an additional weapon. Williams, unfortunately, had a disappointing rookie season, finishing with only 27 catches. In the years to come, his production would gradually improve but never lived up to his expected potential.
The Jaguars 2004 draft class is generally considered a good one, as the team selected LB Daryl Smith, who would prove to be the team's best linebacker in the years to come, as well as long-term kicker Josh Scobee and fullback Greg Jones. Bobby McCray, a seventh-round selection, also contributed a few productive seasons before leaving via free-agency. As of 2012, Smith, Scobee and Jones are still with the team and top contributors.
The Jaguars offense moved the ball efficiently, generally speaking, but struggled heavily in the red zone despite their powerful running game. Franchise running back Fred Taylor finished with nearly 1,300 yards and 4.7 yards-per-carry, but only scored two rushing touchdowns.
The Jaguars won their first three games by a combined 7 points, and were in position to make the playoffs in late December. With an 8-6 record, the Jaguars faced off against the rival Houston Texans in Jacksonville and were shut out 21-0. A win the following week was not enough, and the Jaguars finished the season with a 9-7 record and a second-place finish in the AFC South, despite missing the postseason.
Veteran WR and multiple Pro-Bowler Jimmy Smith finished with over 70 catches and nearly 1,200 yard, proving at times to be the young quarterback's only reliable target.
Despite missing the postseason, the Jaguars 2004 season is generally considered somewhat of a success, as it was the first time the team finished with a winning record since 1999. It was also a big improvement over the team's 5-11 record the previous season.
The following season, a young and energetic Jaguars team would take that momentum all the way into the playoffs, their first postseason berth since 1999.