During their search for a new head coach earlier this year, the Jacksonville Jaguars knew they needed someone that could undo all the damage Urban Meyer caused during the brief period he was at the helm. And while the Jags were close to hiring Byron Leftwich, they ultimately saw Doug Pederson as the right man for the job. Pederson knows that there’s a steep hill ahead and it won’t be easy to climb it.
During an appearance on The Rich Eisen Podcast, Pederson talked about what drew him to the opening in Jacksonville **Spoiler: Trevor Lawrence was a big reason**, the organization’s decision to take Georgia’s Travon Walker over Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, and the challenges he faces as the head coach of the Jaguars.
Pederson told host Rich Eisen that he landed in a unique and unfortunate situation. The Jaguars are coming off one of the worst stretches in franchise history but their new head coach believes there’s plenty of talent in Jacksonville and a lot of really good people in the front office and the football operations.
During the sitdown, Pederson says he was “stunned” to see what the Jags had to go through last year but notes that he wasn’t there, so it’s really hard to put words. He goes on to say that he can “empathize with them, and build off the culture they’re trying to establish“. Later, Eisen asked Person if helping the team heal was a part of his job. Here’s what he answered:
"I do, I think there’s a part of that. I know this is professional football but it’s also life to these kids and the people that are here have families outside of this business and organization. The healing process is the best we can do to flip the script and try to gain the trust of these players, so I do agree with that. I do agree that there’s some level of healing that has to take place and it has taken place and is taking place. We’re not where we need to."
Fixing the Jaguars might turn out to be a long-term project.
Pederson is right when he says the Jaguars aren’t where they need to be. He was equally correct when he noted earlier this year that this might not be a quick turnaround. In spite of all the additions the team made in free agency or the draft over the last couple of months, they have yet to play any games. This year’s squad certainly looks better than their 2021 but they won’t really know how much they’ve improved until they take the football field.
Moreover, you can’t fix years of dysfunction and mediocrity in just a few months. Having a clear vision certainly helps but it’s just one of many steps the organization has to take before it can get out of the cellar of the league. That doesn’t happen overnight. For proof, look at the 2017 campaign. As great as it was, it was an outlier and not the norm. Had the team built a solid foundation, they wouldn’t have gone 5-11 the following year or won a combined 15 games over the last four seasons.
Pederson is aware that there are no magic wands nor shortcuts to turn the Jaguars around. Instead, it will take a lot of hard work, patience, and sheer will. Fortunately, he possesses all those attributes.