JACKSONVILLE, Florida. Doug Pederson delivered a post-game message to his players following the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 31-30 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, which touched a bit on the game but focused more on what he considers far more important.
Faith and beliefs.
Jaguars coach said these are the main reasons the team rallied after a 27-0 deficit to win playoff competition and advance to Saturday’s division game against the Kansas City Chiefs (4:30 pm ET, NBC) .
“I’m proud of you for this reason,” Pederson told the players in the locker room, which was posted in a video clip on the Jaguars’ official Twitter account. “You believe in yourself. You believe in each other… Faith is in understanding that you can do it, and then it will be done. It just can’t happen, and then you have faith. That’s what faith is, and you have it.”
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) January 15, 2023
The Jaguars have fallen behind in five of their eight wins since November, including two 17-point lags and nearly four touchdowns they faced on Saturday. They’ve done it so often that they don’t flinch and believe unshakably that they can do it again.
And it’s mostly because of the culture that Pederson created that led to the wins. He was the perfect hitman at the perfect time to save a franchise that had been one of the worst in the league in the last two decades. The last coach, Urban Meyer, left the team in disarray, but Pederson brought them back together.
“We’re in this position right now because of him,” linebacker Josh Allen said. “Because of the guys we brought in as free agents and also because of the atmosphere he brings us.”
HIRED JAGUARS Pederson on February 3, 2022, 49 days after owner Shad Khan fired Meyer. Meyer’s damage topped a 2–11 record.
He also lost respect and trust in the locker room.
The players didn’t like that Meyer treated them the way he treated his college players, using motivational tactics such as having guest speakers, declaring winners and losers in practice, and having multiple lengthy meetings on the same day. The players also did not appreciate Meyer’s inconsistency or the fact that he openly criticized players and assistant coaches in front of the team.
The players never knew what they were getting every day, were unsure of their game plans, and resented not being treated like adults.
That’s why Pederson’s top priority after recruiting was to build trust with the players and help them recover from a troubled 2021 season.
He didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. He treated the players the same way he did during his five-year tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles: respectful and grown-up. He also made sure that his message, demeanor, and how he treated them were consistent.
“I just wanted them, the most important thing was getting to know me,” Pederson said. “Not really as a head coach, but just as a guy, obviously in a head coach role, but just to see how they can gain my trust, you have to be open, honest and transparent with them.
“You just slowly start gaining their trust. As we got closer to it, I think that maybe their tension eased a bit then, and they became more comfortable with who I was and who I was at the time, and it’s only growing. just builds from there.”
Offensive coordinator Press Taylor said Pederson and staff are not fully aware of the dysfunction within the organization, but it’s easy to see how players were treated under the previous regime and that influenced how they responded to Pederson. .
“You kind of see that all year long they still appreciated what we would say is just a normal NFL offense, locker room, whatever,” said Taylor, who was also on Pederson’s staff in Philadelphia as quarterbacks. coach and game coordinator.
“…We will treat you with respect, we will value your opinion, we will make you a part of this cause. … [Pederson] the established look of this two-way street is how we do things, and you can obviously appreciate that treatment.”
THERE IS ONE WORD this often comes up when players talk about Pederson: consistency.
Pederson is the same every day. Whatever happens in training or meetings, and especially in games, Pederson’s behavior does not change. There is no better evidence than what happened in October and then against the Chargers.
The Jaguars started 2-1 in September but lost 0 in October. All five losses were by one point, and when the month ended with a 21–17 loss to the Denver Broncos at London’s Wembley Stadium, The Jaguars led 2–6 and went into another disappointing season.
Pederson’s behavior has not changed during the ups and downs this season.
“Cool, calm and collected,” said receiver/returner Jamal Agnew. We started hot [he was the] the same person: cool, collected. We lost five in a row: cool, collected. He said: “We have to make an urgent decision, but he never changed who he was.”
Turning the season around 7-2 to win the AFC South, the Jaguars’ first playoff game since 2017 got off to a rough start. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw four interceptions and a punt bounced off Chris Claybrooks’ helmet, leading to another pass – all in the first half – and the Jaguars fell 27-0 down.
But Lawrence completed 18 of 25 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the second half (he had another TD pass just before halftime), and the Jaguars won when Riley Patterson hit a 36-yard field goal as time expired.
The cliché is that teams take on the identity of their head coach, and that seems to apply to the Jaguars because Lawrence said they couldn’t have made those five comebacks if they hadn’t remained as level-headed as their coach. .
“Consistency,” Lawrence said. “He is the same person every day, whether we win or lose. We’ve lost five times in a row, we’ve won so many times in a row, he’s the same every day, and I think that’s what we all rally around for. and we sort of adopted that as players.”
Pederson said he has always tried to be consistent in how he treats players, in the day to day duties of a head coach and in how he operates on the touchline during a frantic game. He was influenced by the coaches he played for during his 10-year career as a backup quarterback.
One of them was Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who also hired Pederson as his offensive coordinator in 2013 and will be on the opposite side on Saturday.
“Obviously he’s played and he knows what workouts he liked and what he didn’t,” Reid said.
“And so in his personality he presents it in a friendly but demanding way to the guys. I think this is a positive thing. I was with him when he was a player and I was with him as a coach. good way about it.”
The Jaguars lost their Week 10 game against Reid in Kansas City and are looking forward to a rematch.
The Jaguars’ biggest problem is finding a way to stop Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is a leading NFL MVP candidate and leads the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns and overall QBR.
The team will need that faith and self-belief to stop Mahomes, who threw for 1,022 yards, threw seven touchdowns and three interceptions, and was looking for another touchdown in three career games against the Jaguars.
Nothing seems out of reach for the Jaguars, however, as they have trailed in nine of their last 10 games, including by double figures in six, but have won seven of those nine games.
“Everything we went through, everything they went through, prepared us for these moments,” Pederson said.