Doug Pederson deserves coach of the year award for Jaguars turnaround

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

Trevor Lawrence is a big reason the Jacksonville Jaguars are winning in 2022. However, Doug Pederson’s role in the Jags’ turnaround shouldn’t be overlooked and the impact he’s had in his first year on the job is why he deserves strong consideration to be the NFL’s coach of the year.

Following the dismissal of Urban Meyer, Byron Leftwich became a hot candidate to fill the Jacksonville head coach vacancy. But Leftwich didn’t reportedly want to work with general manager Trent Baalke, which is one of the reasons he eventually withdrew his name from consideration. With Leftwich out of the picture, owner Shad Khan chose Pederson, who coincidentally was the first candidate the team interviewed.

In retrospect, it’s fair to wonder why the Jags didn’t hire Pederson following his first interview. Then again, what’s important is that he’s overseen one of the biggest turnarounds in team history. Coming off a season in which Jacksonville had to deal with Meyer’s toxicity and managed to win three games, they are close to making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

The win against the New York Jets marked the second time since 2008 that the Jaguars have won at least seven games in a season. But this isn’t the first milestone they have achieved in Pederson’s first year at the helm. This was the first time they won a primetime game since beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000. Similarly, they defeated the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium for the first time since 2013.

Heading into the finale, the Jags have a strong chance to finish 9-7. Although they lost to the Houston Texans (their Week 17 opponent) earlier this year, they’re playing much better. Similarly, they already disposed of the Titans and the finale will be at home and tentatively without Ryan Tannehill, who is very likely done for the season.

The Jaguars are built for sustained success under Doug Pederson

What’s amazing about the Jaguars’ transformation is that Doug Pederson warned everyone this wouldn’t be an overnight fix. Yet, he’s successfully got the team trending in the right direction after less than 12 months at the helm.

Despite the fact that Jacksonville lost five straight games at one point of the season, Pederson kept players focused and remained unfazed in the midst of adversity and they’ve won five games since Wee 9. Had someone else been in charge, it’s fair to wonder if the Jaguars would have been able to salvage their season.

It’s important to point out that Jacksonville doesn’t look like a one-year wonder. Pederson has steadily changed the culture around the locker room and has helped the team heal following the Urban Meyer debacle. With Trevor Lawrence firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback and plenty of difference-makers on both sides of the ball, the Jaguars are poised to sit at the top of the AFC South for the foreseeable future.

The fact that other teams in the division might not have a long-term answer at quarterback should also help Jacksonville. But regardless of what other clubs in the AFC South clubs do, the Jaguars are built to last, which is why Pederson deserves more cheesesteaks and receive Coach of the Year honors in 2022.

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