Pederson wants Jaguars to ‘rally around each other’ amid 5-game losing streak

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson talks with quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) during an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. Broncos defeated the Jaguars 21-17. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (Gary McCullough, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the Jaguars’ six losses this season, they’ve held a lead in all six of them. Somehow, they have to find a way to make one or two more plays. It’s what separates the contenders from the pretenders.

In the season opener against Washington, the Jaguars led by 8 points with 10 minutes to play.

Against Philadelphia, they jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

After an early field goal, the Jaguars were tied with the Houston Texans with 4 minutes to play.

In Indianapolis, the Jaguars led until the final 17 seconds.

Facing the Giants, the Jaguars led until the final 64 seconds.

On Sunday, all they needed was a stop after the two-minute warning to snap the losing streak.

Instead, eight games into the season, the Jaguars are 2-6 when they could be in a much better position. But they can’t dwell on the past if they want to have better results in the future.

Pederson referred back to the 2016 season, his first as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Late in the season, the team lost five straight. Pederson helped the team rebound to win their final two games. The following year, they won the Super Bowl.

“I think about that, obviously, in our current situation here,” Pederson said. “The number one thing I think that you find out is the men in the locker room, and you find out the type of character that they have and how strong your culture is. You don’t want guys to start pointing fingers. You don’t want guys to start making excuses. You don’t want guys to start taking practices off or, you know, finding shortcuts to do things. I think now’s the time that we just have to continue to rally around each other, support each other, and pick each other up.”

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been the focal point of the criticism. On Sunday in London, Lawrence threw two interceptions at inopportune times. On a first-and-goal play at the Broncos’ one-yard line and the on the first play of the Jaguars’ final drive when they needed a touchdown to win. Pederson said Monday he’s continuing to coach Lawrence to better understand the moment--and to recognize when to be aggressive and when to exercise discretion.

“We’ve just got to continue to teach it and coach it,” Pederson said. ”I’m not going to take the aggressiveness away from Trevor. I love that part about him. But at the same time, we’ve got to be smart. And we’ve just got to understand that it’s first and goal at the one, and there are a lot of options available to you as an offense in those situations, and just knowing that we can’t take points off the board.”

This week, the Jaguars host the 2-5 Las Vegas Raiders. A win before the team’s bye week would take a lot of pressure off of a team that has been close every week.

The next question to be answered is whether the Jaguars will be active before the NFL’s trade deadline at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. They already traded James Robinson and reports suggest that teams have been calling about linebacker Josh Allen. When asked on Monday, Pederson didn’t confirm that the Jaguars expected to make a trade, but he didn’t shoot down the idea, either.

“We’re always going to do what’s best for Jacksonville. We’re always gonna do what’s best for the team,” Pederson said. “If teams call, you’re obviously going to listen and be open to what they have to say, or what they are interested in. But as of right now, the roster is what it is. I like the roster. We’ve got to continue to work and build it. But at the same time, if teams are going to call, then obviously, you’re going to take a listen.”