Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson defends Press Taylor, play-calling in 17-9 loss to Chiefs

Following the Jacksonville Jaguars' 17-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson took to the podium, casting blame on the team's lack of execution for both coaches and players.

One target of blame from fans, pundits and other observers after the team mustered just 271 total net yards of offense was offensive coordinator Press Taylor, who was granted complete control of the team's play-calling just prior to the team's Week 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Jaguars vs. Chiefs takeaways: Jaguars can't get going offensively in sloppy 17-9 loss to Chiefs

Trevor Tracker: An updated look at Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence's 2023 stats

Still, Pederson didn't want to go there when asked about his play-caller, defending Taylor's calls, while casting blame on the team's lack of execution in the loss.

"Listen, this game, sometimes it's not about the plays. Now, we have to coach the plays better so the guys understand exactly what to do and how to react to what the defense is presenting. But, you know, I learned a long time ago that the players — you know, players play this football game and coaches coach," Pederson said Sunday when asked about Taylor's play-calling.

"We coach better, the players will ultimately play better. So it starts with us. And, if we're going to evaluate everything and make sure that we're putting our guys in the right places. But I thought Press did a nice job today."

The Jaguars' offense converted just 3 out of 12 third downs, two of which were granted via penalties. The team also failed to convert both of their fourth-down opportunities. In 64 total plays, the team gained an average of 4.2 yards per play, compared to the Chiefs' 6.2 yards per play in the same number of offensive plays. The Jaguars called 14 designed run plays. Travis Etienne led the way with 12 carries for 40 yards.

The Jaguars fumbled the football twice, once due to a botched snap and another after an errant backward pass.

Jacksonville mustered just 197 total net passing yards after Trevor Lawrence completed 22 out of 41 (53.66 percent) of his passes for 216 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions.

In the red zone, Lawrence went 0-for-7, the most red-zone passing attempts without a completion since Brett Favre in 2006 against the Detroit Lions (0-for-7), according to ESPN Stats and Info.

Nothing went right, and there were questionable calls made throughout the contest. One questionable call came at the start of the fourth quarter. Lined up at the Chiefs' one-yard line, Jacksonville opted to run a designed stretch with Lawrence in hopes of converting for a touchdown, similar to the play the team executed against the Tennessee Titans late last season.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay (50) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) on a keeper during the second quarter of a NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023 at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-9. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Instead, Lawrence was corralled for a three-yard loss. Jaguars running back Tank Bigsby scored last week near the goal line but fumbled on another attempt and did not receive the ball on the team's drive within the five-yard-line Sunday against the Chiefs. Pederson said afterward of the play and reasoning for Bigsby's absence that the team had to score there, no matter who is in the game or gets the call.

"We need to score there ... the first play, we had a run dialed up and didn't execute well. We didn't get it in the end zone. And just got to take a look at everything," said Pederson.

"But it's not about who's in the game or who's getting the touch or anything like that, Travis, Tank, D'Ernest, all three of those guys are very capable of doing it. And, you know, so it's not that. We just got to look at what we're doing and making sure we're putting our guys in a position to be successful."

The Jaguars had two shots at the end zone afterward with the score 14-6 in the Chiefs' favor but failed to complete the passes. Both passes were caught out of bounds after valiant efforts by receivers Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones to keep their feet in bounds, but to no avail.

Still, there won't be a change in play-calling duties in Jacksonville anytime soon. The Jaguars scored 31 points in their season-opener against the Colts with poor execution and crucial turnovers in the mix. The team's scoring last year during the second half of contests — which the team says Taylor called — was one of the tops in the league.

During third and fourth quarters last year, Jacksonville ranked fourth with an average of 6.2 points scored during the third quarter and 12th with an average of 6.4 points scored in the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, Pederson says, the team's loss Sunday came down to a lack of execution.

"I mean, the defense kept us in this football game, created the takeaways you mentioned. It's execution," he said. "We've got to do better. We've got to execute. We got too many guys on offense, veteran players that, you know, just we all need to do better, starting with me."

Demetrius Harvey is the Jacksonville Jaguars reporter for the Florida Times-Union. You can follow him on X,  formerly known as Twitter, at @Demetrius82.

If you're a subscriber, thank you. If not, please consider becoming a subscriber to support local journalism in Northeast Florida.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jaguars' Pederson defends Press Taylor, play-calling in loss to Chiefs