Doug Pederson deserves consideration as coach of the year

Jaguars will face Titans on Saturday night for AFC South title

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 01: head coach Doug Pederson of the Jacksonville Jaguars takes the field before kickoff against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on January 1, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) (Cooper Neill, 2023 Cooper Neill)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Does Doug Pederson deserve to be the NFL coach of the year? There is a lot of supporting evidence to say yes.

Even when the Jaguars were near the bottom of the standings, Pederson told his team that the season would come down to the final week.

Somehow he knew.

And here we are.

“We were 2-6 at one point. We were 3-7 at one point. There’s a time and a place where I felt like the message to the football team is, ‘Our goals were still in front of us. Even back then,” Pederson said.

“Everybody in the division was chasing Tennessee. They were three, four games ahead of everybody there for a long time. And I just had to make sure that our guys understood that everything is still in front of us. We’ve just got to play one game at a time and just focus on that one week. And if we did that, it would give us an opportunity to be in Week 18 for all the marbles.”

Was it a motivational tool used to keep a team together at a tough time of the season? Of course, it was.

And it worked.

Now, the Jaguars are in a game that might as well be a playoff game.


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“Call it what it is. It’s a playoff football game. You win, you keep going,” Pederson said “With a young football team, it’s about how we handle the week because the emotions are going to run high, and you just have to pace yourself throughout the course of the week then just turn it loose on Saturday night. I think the guys have done a really good job the last couple of days (of) handling all that.”

Saturday night’s game not only features divisional rivals but franchises with deep histories against one another. Pederson said Thursday the history of the rivalry doesn’t mean much to the playing of the game on the field and he didn’t want his team to focus on the recent success.

He still wants them to play one game at a time.

“It’s good to talk about but you still have to go play against a good football team,” Pederson said. “Momentum, streaks, wins, losses, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Just look at Tennessee right there. They’re in this game for a reason. And they’re playing for the same things we’re playing for. You come out Saturday night and you have to be ready to go and play with energy. You’ve got to play excitable and you just have to do your job and focus on each play.”

Pederson’s handling of Lawrence and the young team has been exemplary.


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“I think Coach, 100% should be in the conversation and could win the [Coach of the Year] award,” Lawrence said on Wednesday. “You look at what he’s done here, the energy, not only the Xs and Os and football stuff, but just the energy, the culture that we’ve created here. Obviously, he’s had a huge part in bringing here. It’s tough to do, especially in the first year and a bunch of new people. I just can’t say enough about the job he’s done and how much I love playing for him and appreciate him, so 100%, I think he should be in that conversation.”

Current Jaguars players aren’t the only ones who recognize the difference Pederson has made. Pride of the Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith said this week that he thinks Pederson has been the biggest reason for the Jaguars’ turnaround.

“This is all on Doug Pederson,” Smith said. “I think he should be the coach of the year. For him to take a squad that was just mentally abused the year before when Urban Meyer was there, and to turn things around ... there’s enough momentum and enough confidence right there to let people know that ‘Hey, we’re not the same old Jaguars that we once were. That’s what we need. We’ve got the momentum right now. And I’m excited to see it happen. They’re a fun team to watch.”

Pederson was named the Maxwell Club NFL coach of the year in 2017. That was the year he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl championship. While the AP NFL Coach of the Year is the most highly recognized award of its kind, the Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, and other organizations, like the Maxwell Football Club, also name a coach of the year.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who wins the award. What’s clear is that Shad Khan made the right hire after firing Urban Meyer.

The future of the Jaguars is in steady, reliable, and experienced hands, wearing, for now, one Super Bowl ring.