The Jacksonville Jaguars knew they had to hire the right head coach after the Urban Meyer fiasco and after a lengthy search, they chose Doug Pederson, who made his impact felt right off the bat. In just his first season at the helm, the Jags made the playoffs and won the AFC South. Not surprisingly, Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus included him in his ranking of the top 10 head coaches in the NFL right now.
Sikkema ranked Pederson as the seventh-best coach in the league ahead of the 2023 season, praising him for his ability to get the most out of his teams and his quarterbacks.
"Pederson is a top-10 lock for this coaching list. First, he was the head coach of the legendary Eagles team that won it all in 2017 — with Nick Foles, mind you, who earned an elite 91. 9 passing grade for that playoff run and a 66.2 passing grade for his career since then.
Pederson's quarterback guru abilities extend to his current spot, as he helped Trevor Lawrence revive his career from what was thought to be a death sentence under former Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. "
Lawrence showed considerable growth under Pederson in 2022, especially in the second half of the season. From Week 9 onward. the former Clemson Tiger completed 69.71 percent of his passes and threw 15 touchdowns against just two interceptions. Furthermore, he led the Jaguars to comeback wins against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Dallas Cowboys, and later the Los Angeles Chargers in a playoff bout. Heading into Year 2 of the Pederson regime, Lawrence should have an even better mastery of the offense and could end up being a dark horse candidate for MVP honors.
Andy Reid got the top spot in the ranking and Bill Belichick finished second. Mike Tomlin and Kyle Shanahan got the No. 3 and 4 spots, respectively, while John Harbaugh popped up at No. 5. Sean McVay landed up spot behind Pederson and Nick Sirianni got the one after.
There are many reasons the Jaguars hit a home run with Doug Pederson
There's no doubt Pederson's mentorship played a huge role in Lawrence's development. However, that's not the sole reason the Jaguars hit it out of the ballpark with his hiring. Urban Meyer fostered a toxic culture during his short stint in Jacksonville and whoever became the head coach was going to be tasked with helping the team heal.
From the get-go, Pederson didn't offer any magic wand solutions. Instead, he made it his priority to focus on building trust among players. His approach ended up working and Jacksonville returned to the playoffs and won the AFC South for the first year since 2017.
Not long after getting hired, Pederson got rave reviews from his players. Former Jaguars cornerback Shaquille Griffin says he was willing to run through a wall for him. Similarly, safety Andrew Wingard said he would follow general Pederson anywhere while veteran Rayshawn Jenkins said coaching was the main reason for the team's success last year.
Pederson showed with the Philadelphia Eagles that he can take a team that's underperforming and can turn it into a contender. That's precisely what he's doing with the Jaguars and even though making Super Bowl is an extremely difficult task, he'll give Jacksonville a fair shot next season.
While you could argue that other more accomplished head coaches were ranking above Pederson, he will move up several spots if the Jacksonville Jaguars keep winning in 2023.