JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars formally introduced their new coach on Saturday and then revealed that more changes are on the way, including a new executive vice president of football operations.
A little more than a day after announcing Doug Pederson as the franchise’s newest head coach, owner Shad Khan said that the exhaustive search that frustrated a fanbase was due to a thorough approach by the franchise. Jacksonville interviewed Pederson originally on Dec. 30 and finally settled on him as a coach late Thursday night.
“The candidates we met in recent weeks were quite impressive, just as we anticipated. This was a highly sought position. And we were comfortable in really taking our time and being sure that we made the right decision for us,” Khan said.
When asked about his statement last year saying that he nailed his hire of Urban Meyer, the coach who lasted all of 13 games before being fired, Khan led with a zinger.
“Well, I was just a year premature, OK,” he said. “So, I did get it right.”
Jaguars fans certainly hope so.
Khan is banking on the hire of Pederson and a soon-to-be-determined front office shakeup to help pivot the direction of Jacksonville. Khan said that the team has applied to the NFL to bring in an executive vice president of football operations, a position that would be above general manager Trent Baalke. The Jaguars haven’t had an EVP since Tom Coughlin.
Khan also said that the team would look to create a position beneath Baalke, likely something akin to an assistant general manager role, to help infuse the front office with all the knowledge it can.
The big piece in the equation is Pederson, who led the Eagles to a win in Super Bowl 52 over the Patriots and has a 46-39-1 career record in the NFL. Pederson was fired after the 2020 season in which Philadelphia finished 4-11-1.
“This is not an overnight fix. This is not, we’re just going to snap our fingers and start winning football games. Our goal is to win football games, but we’re going to do it one player, one coach, one person in the organization at a time,” Pederson said. “And I’ll challenge our team and I’ll challenge our fans, it’s about ownership. It’s about support. It’s about leadership. And that’s what I’ll bring. That’s what I’ll bring to the organization. And I’m not going to settle for anything less than a championship-caliber team.”
Pederson said that he had offers to get back in the NFL last year but took the 2021 season off and recharged. In that span, Pederson said he was able to be more involved with his son, who got married, spend time with a new grandchild and have significant time with his brother, who later died from cancer.
“Did I miss football? Yeah, I did. That’s why I went and visited some guys in training camp last year because I just wanted, I just needed that fix of football and to be around it,” he said “… By the time I got to the end of the season, and we get into this hiring cycle again, I was ready to go. I was excited for whatever opportunity came before me. I had chances to interview with other clubs and this one really drew me in and here I am and ready to go.”
Khan was evasive when asked if any other candidates were formally offered the head coaching job. He said that the lengthy process — 49 days from when they fired Meyer to hiring Pederson — in the coaching search was due to the “thoroughness” of it.
“No, I think we never got to the point of having them talk to our players,” Khan said.
Baalke, the embattled general manager who fans have wanted gone, said that he wasn’t worried about his job status or the time it took to hire a coach.
“I knew all along that I had a vote of confidence from Shad. And as we went into the process, we had a plan and there was no timetable to announce the next head coach,” he said. “We went into it with a very open mind. We had a process that we were going to go through. We stuck to it and at the end of the day, it was about getting it right. And we truly believe we got it right with Doug and have no doubt about it.”
Pederson spoke one-on-one with News4JAX sports reporter Jamal St. Cyr on Saturday after the news conference. Press play below to hear what he had to say about his favorite ice cream flavor, his expectations for QB Trevor Lawrence and why he believes the Jags are a good fit for him: