JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It feels much different for Doug Pederson this year.
Instead of trying to install a system, learn his players and build a culture in a perpetually struggling NFL franchise, Pederson is past all of that. Now, the big steps can happen.
Big steps? But what about last year’s 9-8 season and run to the AFC South title? That was special, if not totally unexpected. The bigger strides are yet to come. The big reason for that is familiarity with the coaching staff and the expected next steps for players like Trevor Lawrence.
“I mean, we’re further along. Because there’s a lot of repeat from the season. And that’s the that’s the thing that I think in year two and beyond is there’s not a lot of change,” Pederson said Monday during organized team activities.
“There are some new wrinkles here and there that we want to see, both sides of the ball. But the guys are further along, just in their knowledge of the offense and defense.”
Pederson’s second year comes with increased expectations from a record perspective, but also from a player production perspective, too. Jacksonville’s rookie class from 2022, headlined by first-round picks Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd, are expected to make significant strides this year. Pederson knows that veterans can handle and process the NFL game much better than rookies.
“As a staff too, now we can continue to teach the finer points of routes and coverages and, you know, D-line rush techniques,” Pederson said. “And this is where guys like Travon are rookies a year ago, can take that next step into year two.”
OTAs aren’t voluntary, but Jacksonville has near-perfect attendance in Pederson’s second season. The only missing players from Monday’s open practice were tight end Evan Engram, left tackle Cam Robinson and edge Josh Allen. Robinson ended last season on injured reserve after tearing his meniscus. Walker Little was getting reps at that spot on Monday, with first-round pick Anton Harrison working at right tackle.
“I mean, you just lean on the guys, I think they understand me, I understand them,” Pederson said. “That’s why we have such a high, high percentage of guys that are here in this world of voluntary offseason program, we have the amount of guys that we do have here.”
Engram, who has yet to sign his franchise tag tender, hasn’t appeared yet in camp and wasn’t expected to attend.
Offensive coordinator Press Taylor said that there’s no concern from the team about Engram missing OTAs.
“Not at all. No. Just what Evan showed us last year, the type of worker he is, we have zero concerns that Evan is going to show up. Whenever Evan shows up, he’s going to be ready to roll, we know that.”
Taylor, like Pederson, noted just how much more advanced things are in year two of the system.
“I think with all our guys, the biggest thing is they’re not hearing something for the first time,” Taylor said. “So, now when we install something or talk about a concept or get into detail, the questions they’re asking are much further beyond what they’re asking last year.”