Those that had prepared welcome signs for Byron Leftwich had to dispose of them when the Jacksonville Jaguars announced they were hiring Doug Pederson as the head coach. While it would have been to see Leftwich return to the team he played for, the Jags have a good one in Pederson and Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports gave the hire a positive mark.
Benjamin recently graded every hire in the latest cycle and the Jaguars got an “A-” for Pederson. He notes that Leftwich might have the biggest upside but thinks Pederson is the safer alternative. He points out that his offense became stagnant at the end of his stint with the Philadelphia Eagles but believes that was the result of having less-than-optimal personnel. Here’s the rest of what Benjamin had to say about Jacksonville’s newest head coach.
"After a year off, with Trevor Lawrence at his disposal, the creative juices should be flowing. His inviting, galvanizing locker-room presence, meanwhile, might be just as important as his literal Super Bowl ring coming off the tumultuous Urban Meyer experiment. Who knows if he’ll get proper support from the front office, but few men are better wired for a rise from the ashes."
Leftwich was at one point the top candidate to become the Jaguars’ head coach but he reportedly told the team’s brass that he wasn’t willing to work with general manager Tret Baalke, who doesn’t have a gleaming reputation around the league. Once it seemed like Jacksonville and Leftwich weren’t going to be able to come to an agreement, the organization moved in a different direction and targeted Pederson, which looked odd at the time, since a month went by before scheduling a second interview with him. Once they zeroed in Pederson, the Jags quickly made a move.
Jaguars HC Doug Pederson has garnered positive reviews.
Brian Daboll (New York Giants) was the only other recently hired head coach to get an -A from Benjamin. The Houston Texans earned a D for Lovie Smith. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins), Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings), Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos) got a B mark while Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders), and Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears) posted a C.
The Pederson hire has generally had a positive reaction and it’s easy to see why. He didn’t try to sugarcoat things in his introductory press conference and noted that there won’t be an overnight fix in Jacksonville. Also, former Eagles and Jaguars tight end Clay Harbor spoke highly of his former head coach and talked about all the positives he brings to the table in a sitdown with John Shipley of Sports Illustrated.
Pederson showed in Philadelphia that he can help an NFL team win games and develop quarterbacks, two traits that make him the right coach for the Jaguars. That’s why it’s not surprising to see Jacksonville get an encouraging grade for his hire.