Doug Pederson helped the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Can he have the same kind of impact with the Jacksonville Jaguars?
The year is 2018. The Philadelphia Eagles are set to host the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game. With (at the time) franchise signal-caller and MVP candidate Carson Wentz on Philly’s sideline, journeyman Nick Foles suited up for the home team.
Meanwhile, the Vikes finished the season as the best defense in the NFL and employed star players up and down the unit. The Eagles were outmatched, and Minnesota was favored by a field goal entering the contest.
The Eagles went on to dismantle the Vikings 38-7 and booked their tickets to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the New England Patriots. While the ensuing years were plagued by the rapid exposure of Wentz’s flaws, bad drafting by the front office, aging talent, and diminishing cap space, Pederson’s Super Bowl in Philadelphia remains the defining moment of his tenure. His dismissal following a 4-11-1 season in 2020 can only partially be blamed on him, and Wentz’s struggles don’t seem to be his fault. He remains a respected coach. A Winner. Moreover, he might have the formula to turn the Jags around.
What can Doug Pederson bring to the Jaguars?
It’s easy to nitpick the way Pederson coached in Philadelphia. The skewed run-pass balance made the offense predictable at times. The decline of Wentz was a disaster. The skill positions remained mediocre, especially as Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz stopped producing at an elite level. Nevertheless, he made the playoffs in three of his five seasons.
The front office invested major money in retaining aging players, and the picks used to fill the gaps never materialized. Pederson made lemonade out of unfavorable situations nearly every season in Philadelphia, but the issues with cap space and QB/skill position play were too much to overcome. His heavy RPO usage is reminiscent of the offense that helped Trevor Lawrence win a national championship at Clemson, and his ability to utilize subpar talent can instantly improve the Jaguars. He has proven to be able to coach an elite offensive line.
His ability to feel the flow of a game and call the right plays at the right time won him a Super Bowl. If the Jaguars can avoid the roster-building issues that ended Pederson’s Eagles tenure, great things could be on the way.
Rick Spielman would be a game-changer for the Jaguars.
Another pivotal figure from that Eagles-Vikings NFC championship could have a massive impact on the Jaguars this offseason, and that is former Vikings general manager Spielman, the architect behind that incredible defense. Known league-wide as one of the best drafters alive, Spielman had been building the Vikings through the draft and keeping them competitive for over a decade. On that team alone, Spielman’s draftees include multiple all-pros such as EDGE Everson Griffen, safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Spielman is expected to join the Jags’ front office. He would be able to handle the personnel side of team management better than most. Without having to work with poor draft classes year after year and without poorly managed contracts limiting his ability to make roster changes, Pederson could have even more success in Jacksonville than he did with Philadelphia.
Jacksonville has versatile running backs who can handle pass work and pass blocking while tearing teams up on the ground. Lawrence is everything that a coach could want from a quarterback, and he’s a good offensive line away from being truly elite. Pederson and Spielman can provide that. His talents and athleticism will be maximized in an offense with more RPOs, and with better downfield passing schemes like the ones the Eagles rode to a championship in 2018, the Jaguars’ offense could become a nightmare.
It remains to be seen whether or not Spielman signs on, but with the tools Pederson provides and the generational roster management that Spielman could bring, Jacksonville’s dark ages could finally be over. Only time will tell.