Doug Pederson: ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever get over’ 2023 collapse

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2023 season ended in Nashville in January when a 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans left the AFC South open for the Houston Texans to take the division.

With just over seven minutes left in that Week 18 loss, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence lunged for the goal line, but came up about a foot short. One last possession for Jacksonville ended with three straight incompletions. It was a frustrating end to a season that once looked promising for the Jaguars.

“Well for me, it’s not so much that loss as much as it is the last six games,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said Monday at the NFL’s annual meeting. “When we were sitting there at 8-3 and we had everything going for us and right in front of us. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it. I think for me it’s going to be my motivation, my fuel, moving forward. I’m not going to let it cloud the vision but at the same time it’s going to be close in my mind as I move forward with the team this spring.”

Jacksonville lost five of its last six games, including the Week 18 defeat that proved to be a nail in the coffin.

“As a coach, you’re hopeful that’s the motivation,” Pederson said. “The way we finished the last month and a half is not our standard and it’s not what we talk about. It goes against everything we talk about, really. We still had opportunities all the way to the 18th week of the regular season. We’re there at the end, we just got to figure out a way to push through that.”

Injuries played a big factor in that slide with Lawrence struggling through knee, ankle, and shoulder issues as well as a concussion. The team also lost wide receiver Christian Kirk late in the year and was missing offensive lineman Cam Robinson for a stretch.

But the team’s inexperience proved costly too. In free agency, the Jaguars added veterans with leadership credentials and postseason experience to provide a boost.

“These guys have been captains on their teams and they’ve been to Super Bowls, they’ve been to AFC championship games,” Pederson said. “These guys know how to win and that’s the influx of talent that we want to bring onto our young roster. Guys that have been there, done that.”

Those players include former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead, former Buffalo Bills center Mitch Morse, and former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Ronald Darby. The Jaguars hope that’ll be enough to avoid a similar fate in the future.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire