To call the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2021 season tumultuous would be an understatement.
Supposedly ushering in a new era with Urban Meyer and No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars finished tied for the league’s worst record at 3-14 and had to deal with myriad issues involving Meyer directly, on and off the field. After just 13 games, team owner Shad Khan fired Meyer, leaving the franchise looking for its third head coach in as many seasons.
Last February, the Jaguars hired former Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson, who has resonated greatly with the team in his first eight months on the job, according to Jacksonville’s chief football strategy officer, Tony Khan.
“Excitement level here in Jacksonville is through the roof,” Khan told Yahoo Sports. “It has been a great training camp. Doug Pederson, his experience is the first thing that jumps out on paper and I think that’s one of the reasons he’s able to command so much respect.”
While Khan doesn’t mention Meyer by name, it’s relatively easy to read the subtext.
Meyer came into last season with no NFL head coaching experience, and aside from struggling to win games, he became a distraction due (among other things) to his hiring and subsequent firing of controversial ex-Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle; to an incident after a Jaguars loss where he was seen with a woman who wasn't his wife dancing on him suggestively at an Ohio bar; to allegedly kicking former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo; and to benching star running back James Robinson.
Here's a full rundown of the Meyer experiment's utter failure.
“You can’t force people to respect someone or like someone or want to work with someone,” Khan said. “I think at the end of the day, someone needs to do the job on their own merits and the command Doug has of the whole building, respect he has from everybody and the genuine way he conducts himself has gone a really, really long way with a lot of people, including all the staff, everybody around the office and the players. ... It feels very different, in a good way, and very organized and a lot of that is based on the experience of Doug and his staff and the achievements they have in this business, the playoff wins, championship games and Super Bowl rings.”
Jacksonville is also entering Year 2 of the Lawrence era. Lawrence, the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, struggled as a rookie after a wildly successful career at Clemson. He's still the future of the franchise, and the Jaguars believe Pederson is a perfect fit to unlock his potential.
Pederson played 10 seasons in the NFL, mainly as a backup quarterback, and won Super Bowl XXXI with the Packers in January 1997. Pederson was also the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles for five seasons and won Super Bowl LII in 2018.
“[He's] someone who comes in and has experience as a player, which is huge, but also extensive experience as an NFL coach and play caller,” Khan said. “Also, I feel like having a head coach directly involved in that play-calling, having it be someone with some of the best experience of any NFL play-caller, it really sets up well for Trevor and has given him the best kind of support we could give him in his second year.”