Calais Campbell on Jaguars crashing the AFC title game: 'I expected to be here'

Not many people expected the Jacksonville Jaguars to be where they are right now. The Jags were almost uniformly predicted to come in last in the AFC South. (Though here at CBS, only four of us seven -- myself included -- predicted a last-place finish.) Their preseason win total over/under of six wins was the sixth-lowest figure in the NFL

We all know what happened instead. The Jaguars stormed through the regular season on their way to 10 wins and an AFC South title. They had the single best defense in the NFL for much of the year, with Calais Campbell, Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and company taking incredible star turns and making opposing quarterbacks look silly. Their run defense took a step forward as well after the acquisition of Marcell Dareus, and they controlled games against both the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers in order to make their way to the NFL semifinals. 

One person that can say they absolutely expected the Jaguars to be where they are right now is Campbell. He doesn't view the team as a surprise AFC title game participant at all. 

"That's silly to me," Campbell said, per the team's official website. "We have earned the right to be here. We have put a lot of time and effort in so this is an opportunity we feel like we deserve and we have prepared for. I can honestly say I expected to be here."

And you know what? He actually did expect them to be here. Let's flash back to this offseason, shortly after Campbell signed with the Jags.

"I truly believe this team has every piece to the puzzle," Campbell said, per the team's website. "We don't need anything else."

He also straight-up mentioned the possibility of the team making it to the Super Bowl.

"I'm thinking about the end goal," he said. "The first step of our goal is to get to the playoffs, to win the division -- because that guarantees a playoff spot. From there, what's going to separate us from past teams, to allow us to get to the Super Bowl? Then what's going to allow us to actually believe we can win a Super Bowl? That's just the ongoing process of creating that belief system that we can do it. We have the pieces to the puzzle already here."

As for why he believed that was possible when so many other people doubted, Campbell kept things simple. 

"All we have to do is take care of the small details, and put the things in place," he said. "The front office is doing a great job making it competitive, bringing the right guys in to compete. That will allow us to continue to get better. I have confidence in this coaching staff to prepare us so we're all moving in unison. And I have confidence that my teammates are going to leave it all on the field every day, trying to win now. We have big goals, lofty goals, but all of that will take care of itself. Right now we're going to take care of the details."

Everything else Campbell has predicted for the team has come true so far. They're one win away from making his dream of a Super Bowl trip a reality. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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