Tag Archive for: Doug Pederson

Trevor Year Three, Doug Year Two is a Good Match

Trevor Year Three, Doug Year Two is a Good Match

Trevor Year Three, Doug Year Two is a Good MatchNo matter where you look, if they’re talking about the NFL, they’re talking about the Jaguars. In year two of Doug Pederson’s tenure as the Jaguars Head Coach, he’s taken a franchise lost in every way possible and turned the team into a contender. His steady hand, as well as some solid acquisitions through free agency and the draft, and the development of Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, both on and off the field, have the Jaguars as a favorite to win the AFC South and possibly contend deep into the playoffs.

Bookmakers have the over/under on Jaguars wins at 9 and a half. So expectations are high both locally and everywhere else.

How do you deal with that when it came so quickly?

“We stay focused on the moment, we stay focused on ourselves, we prepare like we do every single week and every single day,” Pederson said. “That’s what we have to do, we can’t worry about what’s going on outside of the building and let the fans and media talk about that.”

Jaguars Quarterback Trevor Lawrence agreed. Expectations aren’t important.

“I don’t really care to be honest,” Lawrence said unapologetically. “I think it’s more dangerous to have people praising you than to not have any expectations. With the group we have, it doesn’t worry me at all.”

“You don’t really deal with them,” he added about expectations the Jaguars could content this year. “What does it matter what this guy said of here? He’s not in our locker room, he’s not a part of our team.”

Lawrence credits Pederson with creating that mindset within the team.

“I think that’s the biggest thing that Coach has done a good job of, is making sure of that, and managing all of those expectations. They’re not real, we have to go out there and play every Sunday.”

Trevor Year Three, Doug Year Two is a Good MatchBut from the spot where the Jaguars were two years ago to this year is a giant leap forward. They were a moribund franchise without a history of winning or an identity they could lean on. Pederson has changed that, and Lawrence is a big part of that. And not just with his play. It’s no surprise that he’s the leading vote getter when his fellow players are electing a captain.

Coming off their late season success in 2022, the team seems hungry to continue that run. It’s something that can carry over or disappear depending on the culture of the team.

Lawrence seems to be the glue that has bound the Jaguars together.

“I don’t think they exceeded them, but they met them,” Pederson said of how the team came back to work after last year’s success, and his expectations of what to expect from still a young team in 2023. “There’s so much confidence right now in that locker room and that’s the good thing. That part is really good, the team is in a good place.”

“I think it’s a lot of things,” Lawrence added when asked about carrying over last year’s success. He credits the continuity.

“I think it’s having confidence a little bit from past success, but also preparation and knowing our system and feeling more comfortable in what we’re doing.”

And both said they like how the team reacts to the ups and downs of preseason, training camp, cuts, and the onslaught of publicity as one of the favorites in the AFC. (Read that last sentence again!)

“There’s a lot of maturity on this team,” Pederson explained even though the Jaguars remain one of the youngest teams in the league. “So many young players have played a lot of football, it’s interesting. There’s not a lot that really phases this group. Adversity we know is going to strike at some point, this team doesn’t seem to waiver much at all with that.”

Lawrence echoed Pederson’s confidence in the maturity of a young team.

“It’s a lot different, the confidence piece,” he explained. “We know everything is not going to go perfect this year, it’s never going to no matter how good your team is. Understanding that and also realizing we’ve been through some of that adversity before and we know how to handle it.”

Opening on the road at Indianapolis could give the Jaguars an indication of just how good and how mature they are. They didn’t play well on the road last year and lost to the Colts for the ninth time in the last ten games at Indy.

That’s not lost on the Jaguars Head Coach.

“The unknown is just, ‘Hey, how are we going to respond to that?’” he said with a sigh.

And even only in his third year, Lawrence has figured out beating division opponents is important for the present and the future. Division opponents become natural rivals.

“Honestly every division game feels that way,” he said when asked about rivalries in the NFL. “It’s almost like the division games are worth double. It’s a big opportunity to either get ahead of fall behind. It’s my third year in the league and I’m playing them for the fifth time.”

And that familiarity stays in the back of his mind.

“You see them, you talk to them, you seem them after games, all that stuff,” he said with a smile. “You get to know how they play and the things they like to do. You remember players and you keep things saved, you go back on notes and all that stuff, so you remember all of that.”

Jaguars, Pederson, Lawrence and a Turnaround

Jaguars, Pederson, Lawrence and a Turnaround

It’s been a while since anybody at the stadium said, “See you next week” after a game in January. But thanks to some stout defense, the Jaguars beat the Titans, 20-16 to win the AFC South Division Championship in their final regular season game.

In front of a capacity crowd, perhaps the largest to see a Jaguars home game, the Jaguars grabbed their first lead of the game with just over two minutes to play as Rayshawn Jenkins jarred the ball loose from Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs and Josh Allen scooped up the tumbling ball and streaked thirty-seven yards for the score.

The crowd erupted, and again, the Jaguars defense rose to the occasion, harassing Dobbs and stifling Derrick Henry, forcing a turnover on downs in the Titans final possession to end the game.

It was sweet for the Jaguars fans at the stadium, who stuck around inside afterwards and shouted a chorus of “Duuvalll” numerous times in unison to celebrate the end of a long skid of ineptitude by the local franchise. And they’re hoping there’s not only more to come this year, but this kind of game sets the tone for a young Jaguars team going forward. No matter what happens in the playoffs, as the fourth-youngest team in the NFL, the arrow is pointing up for the Jaguars.

“This game symbolized our season,” Head Coach Doug Pederson said afterwards. “The ups, downs, high, lows, and we came out with a victory. We stayed the same and guys improved every game.”

Hiring Pederson is the whole key to the Jaguars success this year. After a chaotic and lost year under the buffoon Urban Meyer, the Jaguars young players, especially Trevor Lawrence, have flourished. General Manager Trent Baalke deserves some credit along with Pederson for adding the right blend of veteran players to help change the culture and getting the Jaguars pointed in the right direction.

“I just think Doug is an incredible leader,” Wide Receiver Christian Kirk, one of the veteran additions explained. “He connects with everybody within the locker room. He treats us fair, and he sticks to his word. He is always thinking about us, and he puts us first. Like I said, he is just an easy guy to buy into, and I know everybody in this locker room is very grateful to be able to play for him.”

Kirk and another veteran wide receiver addition, Zay Jones, both have more than eighty receptions this year, the first pair to do that for the Jaguars since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell in 2001. That’s a long dry stretch.

It makes you scratch your head asking why Philadelphia fired Pederson after just five years, including three winning seasons and a Super Bowl Championship. The Athletic has a pretty good article on that, detailing some of the disfunction in the Eagles organization at the time with Owner Jeffrey Lurie and General Manager Howie Roseman. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan tried to hire Pederson last year, but Doug said he needed a year off to get his life back on track. But when the Meyer experiment exploded, Pederson said he was ready.

After last season, the Jaguars weren’t only a losing franchise, they were broken. And Pederson recognized that right away.

“What was needed was trust,” Pederson said of his first order of business as Head Coach. “Trust was broken with this team when I took this job. I think they saw in me right away that they can trust in me and I can trust in them. It began to show during the course of the year. When you have five straight losses it can go sideways in a hurry. But we stuck together.”

“You’re trying to teach a winning culture and flip the script, so to speak,” he added. “But you never know how that’s going to work until you start playing games. To win nine games in our first year together, it’s just fantastic.”

On the field after the game, Pederson and Quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a long embrace, capping an improbable turnaround for Lawrence and the franchise.

“You know, just told him I loved him,” Trevor revealed. “I’m appreciative of him, just what he has done for this place obviously, it takes more than just a coach, but what he has been able to do for this organization has been incredible and just excited for the future.”

And part of the future is next week. A home playoff game, a young team and a bit of a 1996 (’97 playoffs) vibe.

“I just think this whole journey from where we were to where we are now, to earn this opportunity to go play in the playoffs, it’s special,” Lawrence added. “You ask a lot of guys that have played for five, six, seven, eight plus years and a lot of guys have only been to the playoffs once, twice, three times in their career. When you think about that too, it really puts it into perspective that it’s not easy to win in this league.”

Long suffering Jaguars fans are well aware of that. It’s why the parking lot didn’t empty until the wee hours of the morning after a Saturday night victory. With calls of “Duuuvalll” ringing in their ears, the party continues this week. They deserve it.