The Jacksonville Jaguars collapsed in the second half of the season. After a 6-2 start, they managed to muster just three wins the rest of the way. While some of their struggles could be attributed to either a dearth of talent or injuries, subpar execution also played a huge role. That falls on the head coach and his staff. Doug Pederson met with the local media and said that he isn't planning on making changes to his staff, noting that he needs time to assess everything.
"At this time, I haven't, I'm still processing everything," Pederson said. "We just finished the season so I'm going to take the next little bit here and think about everything. Obviously, with the way, we finished, it's not where we want to be, and I got to take all this into consideration."
The playcalling on offense wasn't necessarily bad, but it wasn't great either. The plays and game plan were imaginative at times, which in turn made it difficult for Jacksonville to move the ball and score. Nevertheless, Doug Pederson had praise for offensive coordinator Press Taylor, and blamed execution, opting to blame the miscues on execution instead.
"I thought it went good. Can I be better? Yeah, I can be better," Pederson said. "At times, when you struggle offensively like we did at times, I don't care who's calling plays, you might as well look at that thing with your eyes closed and just pick a play, quite honestly. Because it's hard, is difficult. I've been there, you're trying to find that one play or a spark that gets your offense rolling, and with the struggles that we had at times, that's a difficult thing to do, whether it's in the run game or the pass game, whatever it might be.
"Then, you're looking at the amount of the amount of turnovers, right? You go up and down the field, you turn the ball over in the red zone, right? You can't do that, it's not the play calling, it's not the scheme or the design of plays. It's just having the urgency. We got to protect the football better, things of that nature. You jump offsides, now your first-and-15. Okay, now you're looking at first-and-15 and anticipating maybe being second-and-8, second-and-7," Pederson said.
Pederson continued, "All that, everything we do matters, right and so as a play caller, you want to be as efficient as you can, especially on early downs. But at times, you get handcuffed by trying to find the right play. Especially when you're struggling as an offense. But overall, Press did a nice job of organizing the offense. The game planning that we did, and playcalling. I'd have to go back and look at all the numbers but points and different things like that, we were better, and we can still get better on third down. Red zone all of that but he did a nice job."
This was Taylor's first year calling plays, so it's understandable that Pederson isn't making any snap judgments. When asked if he ever decided to take away the playcalling from Taylor, the head coach said no.
The Jaguars need to look at all options, including moving on from both their coordinators
Things weren't much better on defense. Mike Caldwell's group failed to wrap up tackles and too often blew assignments. That falls on coaching, and teaching the fundamentals. Keep in mind that a coordinator's duties go beyond calling plays on either side of the ball. They must also install the game plan and ensure their players can execute it. The Jaguars frequently didn't in 2023.
During his exchange with the media, Pederson cited turnovers and missed tackles as two of the reasons Jacksonville struggled this past season. He's right they held the team back but some of that falls into coaching. He, at one point, said that the team has to address issues during the game rather than waiting until the next day or a meeting. If you read between the lines, he's saying that they often waited to fix things instead of taking care of them at the moment.
Pederson will meet with Taylor and Caldwell in the upcoming days to express his concerns. He needs to have an open mind and use the time he'll take to think if he could bring in someone else who could do a better job. Had the offense and the defense not underperformed, this wouldn't even be a debate, but they did.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have their work cut out for the offseason after a disappointing end to the season. One of the things they'll need to decide is whether Press Taylor and Mike Caldwell will return. Making the right call will go a long way toward ensuring they bounce back in 2024.