Given everything we know about Urban Meyer’s dysfunctional tenure as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, finishing 3-14 last season seems like a significant accomplishment. Owner Shad Khan justifiably moved on from Meyer and hired Doug Pederson to right the ship. While Pederson has a low bar to clear, he’s already become a fresh breath of air in Duval.
Running back Travis Etienne recently met with the local media and besides talking about his recovery from a Lisfranc injury last preseason, he jokingly said that he was glad he missed last season and all the turmoil Meyer created. Similarly, Trevor Lawrence noted that short of getting injured, he doesn’t know if the Jags could have faced any more challenges in 2021. Although he didn’t get into specifics, Meyer’s ineptitude and lack of self awareness are well-documented, so it might have not made much sense to dwell in the past.
Instead, Lawrence spoke highly of Pederson, who brings a whole different approach to the organization. He says it’s huge to have a head coach that has been in his shoes and has played quarterback. Moreover, he sees his success with the Philadelphia Eagles as something he and his teammates can lean on.
"So having someone that’s done it and knows how to do it, that helps a lot and gives us a lot of confidence. So far, it’s been great to see kind of how he runs things, really laid back expects a lot out of us. I think that’s important that you have those high expectations for your team but I think just handle he handles things the right way."
Taking their time to hire Doug Pederson could pay off big for the Jaguars.
There are several reasons why the Jaguars have had only one winning season in the last 10 years. Not drafting well is a big one but not having the right head coach has also played a role. Doug Marrone had success in his first full season at the helm but struggled the following three. Not having enough playmakers on the roster didn’t make his job any easier but he didn’t maximize the talent he had at hand either.
Meyer was supposed to right the ship but instead made things worse. After the Jaguars fired him, they conducted a search that lasted more than a month and although they were close to hiring Byron Leftwich, they ended up choosing Pederson. Leftwich might have been a good head coach and his ties to Jacksonville would have made him a solid acquisition but Pederson is arguably the better of the two.
Leftwich had no prior experience coaching while Pederson has already won a Super Bowl. Both coaches have a quarterback background so both could have a positive influence on Lawrence. Nevertheless, Pederson has done it a bit long and his experience in Philly could turn out to be invaluable.
Pederson isn’t the kind of head coach that gets the spotlight for the wrong reasons and that will help Jacksonville avoid distractions. While it will be a while before we can see tangible signs of his work, there’s no doubt he’s an upgrade over Meyer, and Jaguars players are glad he’s in charge.