JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Doug Pederson was the first man interviewed and the last candidate standing.
The Jaguars finally settled on a head coach Thursday night, tabbing the Super Bowl-winning coach to try and rebuild a franchise that has fallen to one of the league’s worst, both on the field and in perception. Jacksonville is picking first in the draft for the second consecutive season, with a combined 4-29 record in that window.
“Doug Pederson four years ago won a Super Bowl as head coach of a franchise in pursuit of its first world championship. I hope Doug can replicate that magic here in Jacksonville, but what is certain is his proven leadership and experience as a winning head coach in the National Football League. It’s exactly what our players deserve. Nothing less,” owner Shad Khan said in a release.
“Combine this with his acumen on the offensive side of the ball, and you have why I am proud to name Doug Pederson the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I know our fans will warmly welcome Doug and his family to Duval and I personally look forward to having Doug as part of everything we envision for the team, downtown and community in the years ahead.”
The Jaguars will formally introduce Pederson as the team’s head coach during a news conference at noon Saturday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Pederson had spoken on the phone with quarterback Trevor Lawrence earlier in the evening.
“I think they got the right guy. I think they hired the right guy today,” said sports analyst and 1010XL Radio host Frank Frangie. “I think Doug Pederson is a quarterback guy. He won a Super Bowl with Nick Foles beating Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It took a long time, but I think they wound up with the right guy. I think it’s a big night for the Jaguars. A great night for Trevor Lawrence and this team.”
Product on the field aside, the Jaguars’ inability to keep fans updated on the coaching process and keeping embattled general manager Trent Baalke to oversee the rebuild has not gone over well. Pederson was one of the first candidates mentioned as a potential successor to disgraced ex-coach Urban Meyer. He had the NFL head coaching experience desired and has a Super Bowl win on his resume.
But Pederson’s interview came and went, with the Jaguars then turning their search process to several other candidates.
Pederson reemerged as a potential candidate after Jacksonville’s search hit several roadblocks. One of the issues that remained in the process was owner Shad Khan’s decision to retain Baalke instead of starting anew.
Pederson spent five seasons as the head coach with Philadelphia and went 42-37-1 with the Eagles in the regular season. He won two NFC East titles and reached the playoffs three times, including a Super Bowl 52 win over the Patriots. Backup quarterback Nick Foles engineered that 41-33 victory and parlayed that into a blockbuster free agency deal with the Jaguars in 2019.
Pederson was fired after the 2020 season and a 4-11-1 record. He didn’t coach last year, which made him Jacksonville’s first head coaching interview.
Pederson got his start in coaching at the high school level, going 40-11 in four seasons at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. He left the high school ranks for an offensive quality control coach position with the Eagles and worked his way up to quarterbacks coach before being hired by the Chiefs as their offensive coordinator in 2013.
Pederson brings stability and NFL experience to a franchise left reeling by the stain and inexperience of Meyer.
Jacksonville fired him on Dec. 16 after a series of blunders and made offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell the team’s interim coach. Bevell led the team to a 1-3 finish, including a dominant win over the Colts in the regular season finale.
While Bevell got a courtesy interview, the only confirmed candidates to get a second interview with Jacksonville were Byron Leftwich, Matt Eberflus and Pederson. The Bears hired Eberflus and Leftwich withdrew from consideration on Thursday.
Pederson has a reputation as an offensive-minded coach. He was credited with the early development of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and gets to work with another young passer in Lawrence.