Hiring Doug Pederson was arguably the best move the Jacksonville Jaguars made in the offseason (and probably in several years). However, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus doesn’t think he was the best head-coaching acquisition of this year’s cycle.
Kyed recently ranked all new head coaches following the preseason and Pederson popped up at No. 6, two spots away from the cellar. He believes Trevor Lawrence will improve under Pederson but believes he will need to play much better for the Jaguars to double their win totals from last year.
"Lawrence finished the preseason with a 60.2 PFF grade, barely above his 59.6 mark last regular season. The jaguars spent freely this offseason to add talent across their roster while replacing the trainwreck that was Urban Meyer as an NFL head coach with Pederson. For Jacksonville to reach 6.5 wins, Lawrence will need to play much better. And if he can truly ascend, Jacksonville has a chance to compete in what some people around the NFL believe is a wide-open AFC South."
Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos) landed at the top of the ranking. He interviewed for the Jags’ opening earlier this year. Kevin O’Donnell (Minnesota Vikings), who was also at one point in consideration for the job in Jacksonville, got the second spot while Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins) finished third. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders) and Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints) were fourth and fifth, respectively. Brian Daboll (New York Giants) landed one spot above Pederson while Matt Eberblus (Chicago Bears) and Lovie Smith (Houston Texans) finished below the Jaguars.
The Jaguars have one of the best new head coaches in Doug Pederson
Josh McDaniels and Kevin O’Donnell inherited established quarterbacks, Derek Carr for McDaniel’s case, and Kirk Cousins in O’Donnell’s case, so they could lead their respective teams to the playoffs right off the bat. Similarly, Nathaniel Hackett will have the chance to coach Russell Wilson, which should help the Broncos compete in a stacked AFC West. However, the Jaguars arguably have the signal-caller with the most upside of the group in Trevor Lawrence.
Also, the Jags went out of their way and did more than most clubs on the list to put Lawrence in a position to succeed. Besides getting him a pair of receivers in Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, they also signed tight end Evan Engram to a one-year deal in free agency. Furthermore, they upgraded most position groups on defense, so Doug Pederson will have a well-rounded team at his disposal.
Looking at Kyed’s list, the main reason Pederson might have gotten such a low spot was that the Jags are coming off a 3-14 season. The New Orleans and the New York Giants have several question marks ahead of the 2022 and both clubs are expecting their quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Daniel Jones, respectively, to make a huge leap in 2022. This in turn makes it hard to justify their place above Jacksonville in the ranking.
The Jaguars have steadily become a low-key, trendy pick to contend for the AFC South crown. Despite the fact that they went 0-4 in the preseason (including the Hall-of-Fame game), they showed enough growth over the last few months to believe they got it right when they hired Doug Pederson as their head coach.