JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Are the Jaguars Super Bowl-bound under head coach Doug Pederson?
Probably not this year.
But Pederson said he likes what he sees.
The passion, community and fanbase remind him of his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, the team Pederson led to a Super Bowl win in his second season in 2017.
“The last place I was with was really enthusiastic about their team just like Jacksonville is,” Pederson said on Wednesday night at an event for season ticket holders. “That’s what I love about Jacksonville, seeing the excitement on the fan’s faces.”
Pederson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence headlined the event in the Gallagher Club of TIAA Bank Field to discuss the upcoming season, recap the 2022 draft class and responding to questions from more than 1,200 fans.
Lawrence said what they have is something new and fresh for the fans.
“Things last year didn’t go as well as we hoped, but we have an exciting team this year,” Lawrence said. “We think the fans will be pleased with what they see on the field this year.”
The Jaguars finished 3-14, improving on their 1-15 record from the previous season. They failed to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
The Jaguars joined the Cleveland Browns (2017-18 drafts) as the last teams to have the top draft choice in back-to-back years.
Along with the team’s lack of success, constant scandals dogged the team under former head coach Urban Meyer.
Meyer was fired as head coach on Dec. 16 and replaced with Darrell Bevell for the remainder of the season. With Pederson at the helm, the Jaguars believe they can get back to the playoffs and build a championship culture just like he did in Philadelphia.
Pederson said the No. 1 ingredient to building a championship team is to have high-character players.
“Players who are on time to meetings/practice, great role models in the community, leaders amongst themselves, that’s how you build a championship program,” Pederson said. “Everyone on this team can lead. They’re here because they want to win, and those leaders can reduce any challenge that faces you in the regular season.”
Pederson isn’t the only new member with championship experience, as Lawrence won a national championship with Clemson in 2019.
With a year under his belt as an NFL starter, Lawrence said the most significant thing for a team to succeed is the ability to keep everyone accountable.
“We have to have trust in one another. That goes for players, the coaching staff, and everyone on our team,” Lawrence said. “Champions have great leaders and players that keep everyone around them accountable.”
In August 2018, Pederson released his book ‘Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion.’ Pederson wrote the principles that guided him through the ups and downs and challenging times of his career and what it took to become a champion.
Pederson said that those principles create energy every day, eliminate distractions, fear nothing and attack everything. Those four pillars are what Pederson has implemented in his football teams and what he plans to do in Jacksonville.
“For the players to be their best on Sundays, there are things they have to eliminate, and they need to focus 100% on their job,” Pederson said. “If you maintain those four pillars, you can apply it to everyday life and what we do here with the Jaguars on a daily basis.”
The Jaguars wrapped OTA’s this week and are looking forward to mandatory minicamp that begins Monday.
While progress won’t be evident in the product until the games begin, the optimism seen through the early offseason continues to grow.
“There are obviously challenges. Last year there were a lot of distractions that we try to put in the past,” Lawrence said. “We’re in a great place now, and we have the opportunity to turn this team into something special this season.”