Doug Pederson was named the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach on Thursday and he wasted no time meeting the media on Saturday through his introductory presser. Overall, it was an event that lasted over 40 minutes from the second-time head coach and a lot of great insight was gained in the process.
Most importantly, Pederson knocked the ball out of the park when it came to the interview, despite there being many questions to ask Jags owner Shad Khan and general manager Trent Baalke, too. That said, we’ve gathered some takeaways from the event as Pederson gave us a lot to evaluate through his first interaction with the Jacksonville media:
Despite how puzzling the search was to onlookers, Pederson respected it
Jan 5, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles Doug Pederson walks out for pregame warmups before the start of the NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Jags have been understandably criticized for how their search went after getting a two-week head start and ending it in early February. Pederson was their first interviewee on Dec. 30 and was their last, too, as his second interview took place on Feb. 1.
That put Pederson in a situation where his second interview didn’t occur until a whole month had passed. Despite that, though, Pederson said he didn’t mind it and said he appreciated the thoroughness of the process.
“As Shad [Khan] mentioned the interview process was thorough,” Pederson said. “It was very exhaustive, even for us as candidates who went through the process, not really knowing what was going to go on. I can appreciate the diligence that the Khan family presented, what Trent presented, and what they went through with Tony [Khan].
“The fact that they took time to get to this decision today makes me even more proud that, yes, I was the first candidate interviewed, and yes, I was the last candidate interviewed. And in between there were a lot of great candidates. A lot of great candidates could be sitting here today.”
Pederson is right about the pool the Jags put together, as it was a strong group that included Byron Leftwich, who went deep into discussions with the Jags. However, he wanted to bring in his own general manager over Trent Baalke, who has outlasted three coaches who were brought on with him dating back to his time in San Francisco.
Of course, that led to Leftwich pulling his name out of the team’s pool of candidates, which helped accelerate the process. However, that’s definitely not to knock Pederson, either, as he was a great candidate with very similar accolades as the former Jags first-round selection.
The point is the Jags are very lucky to come away from this process with Pederson, who belongs in the league as a head coach, after how unorganized the search felt. And whether it was the Jags reconsidering their front office structure (more on that later), or the patience and/or openness of Pederson that helped it all come together, the organization is fortunate they avoided the catastrophes fans have seen the people up top cause before.
Pederson wants to call plays
Dec 1, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson looks on during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
While the Jags have yet to name an offensive coordinator, we at least know who plans to call the plays for the Jags. That person will be Pederson himself.
“I will say right now that I want to call the plays,” Pederson said. “I want to put myself in position to help this football team. That’s my — not only lead the team but I’ve done that in my five years in Philadelphia, and I feel really comfortable doing that.”
Pederson added that there could be days where he allows someone else to call plays, too, because there are days where his play-calling could simply be off. Still, if he ends up being the primary play-caller, Lawrence’s career could take off as Pederson will almost undoubtedly do a better job of utilizing Lawrence’s strengths than the past staff.
Unlike the last regime, Pederson understands that the Jags won't be a quick fix
Feb 8, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson holds the Lombardi trophy during Super Bowl LII champions parade. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Around this time last season, it was made known that Urban Meyer thought the Jags could make a drastic turnaround in one season, but that simply wasn’t realistic for many reasons. However, right out of the gate, Pederson has already said he knows the Jags’ situation won’t be a quick fix.
“I know you’ve been thought a lot but that’s about to change,” Pederson said Saturday. “I will make this a winning organization. This is why I have been hired. This is not an overnight fix, we’re going to do it one player and one coach at a time.”
As we mentioned in January, the Jags have a lot of needs and 2021 proved how bad they were around Trevor Lawrence on the offensive line, and especially at receiver. They also don’t have “the guy” in terms of an elite pass-rusher on defense, though Josh Allen and Dawuane Smoot are solid players.
However, before the team even begins the process of constructing the team, as Pederson said, a great staff must be constructed. With ties to the Andy Reid tree, Pederson can do that, but he will also have to look outside of the tree to help as well.
The front office is getting restructured
Feb 27, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manger Rick Spielman speaks to media during the 2019 NFL Combine at Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
As the reports about the Jags having interest in former Minnesota executive Rick Spielman from earlier in the week suggested, the Jags will be restructuring their front office and adding to it. Simply put, in their search for a coach they found out that their personnel department needs bolstering, but most importantly, they found out that having Baalke as a top executive isn’t helping them.
As we’ve previously discussed, Baalke was the biggest reason their coaching search dragged on, as several candidates didn’t want to work with him due to his poor reputation. That said, Khan, whether he says it or not, realized this and now the team will have an executive over Baalke and an assistant general manager below him.
Some fans may not be high on the whole aspect of an executive vice president after the issues that came with Tom Coughlin, but the Jags had the right concept. It was just that they had the wrong person in the role as Coughlin’s connection with players, and the NFLPA was poor.
If it is Spielman who joins the Jags as an executive over Baalke, it would be huge as he’d easily be the most accomplished executive in team history. His reputation is one that’s well regarded, which opens up the opportunity for the Jags to step their game up both in free agency and the draft depending on the role he plays.