After Urban Meyer successfully found a way to tank his own NFL coaching career, the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the hunt for their next long-term Head Coach. While a decision isn’t going to be made imminently, former Eagles Head Coach, Doug Pederson, should absolutely be at the top of their Christmas wish list.
The Jags are an interesting spot having drafted Trevor Lawrence with the #1 overall pick this year. They could be destined to be selecting there once again, given their current 2-12 record is only rivalled by Detroit’s 2-11-1. The difference is that the Lions are at least competing in games, whereas the Jags have lost six straight and the wheels have quite clearly come off the wagon thanks to a myriad of Meyer-based issues and a lack of talent. Change is needed, and there’s only one man for the job.
A Quarterback’s dream
Sure, Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl and that’s obviously his most alluring trait to many. But when he started coaching the Eagles, he was gifted a rookie signal-caller in the way of Carson Wentz. Once Sam Bradford was shipped off to Minnesota, Wentz and Pederson were left to knuckle down and start building something special.
Pederson is a former quarterback and his coaching staff was initially filled with men who had followed similar paths. This helped them relate to Carson Wentz and help improve on his flaws as a passer. After his rookie year and an offseason with a private QB coach, Wentz came back looking like a totally different animal when it came to his footwork. This, in part, led to the ascension of the future Super Bowl champs.
The relationship between Wentz and Pederson reportedly fractured towards the end of their tenure, but reports after the breakup suggest otherwise. In truth, it’s hard to know what to believe. But if we’re to go off what we saw on the field over a four year span, we can see a Head Coach who elevated a quarterback who refused to lose his daredevil mentality.
It was never perfect, but 2017 was pretty damn close. If we’re to take 2017 and 2020 as outliers, we can safely say that Wentz is a competent starting quarterback, thanks in large part to the trust and confidence built up by Pederson over their journey together.
Trevor Lawrence is a good quarterback, but he has the potential to become an elite one. Hiring a former QB and someone that has not only seen the rise and fall of a top draft pick, but also has extensive experience working with every type of signal-caller dating back to his days with the Chiefs and even as the man who pounded the table for the Eagles to draft Nick Foles. Pederson would be able to add a lot of value to the game of Trevor Lawrence and he’s unquestionably Jacksonville’s most valuable asset. They have to do right by him first.
One of the big reasons why Pederson was chosen for the Eagles HC role over his competitiors is something Jeffrey Lurie likes to call ‘emotional intelligence’. Frankly, the Jags need a lot of it.
What really helped Pederson galvanize a previously broken team was his ability to relate to players. Trey Burton once told me that his Head Coach encouraging him to ‘let his personality shine through‘ was something he hadn’t previously experienced. Jordan Matthews spoke at length about how Pederson’s humble approach to acccepting criticism on play-calls and taking suggestions from players really unified the team in wanting to drive forward as a selfless unit because they’re all building it together.
If you go beyond that, you can see a real pattern emerge during Pederson’s tenure. It’s so easy to forget the chaos he inherited in 2016. Nelson Agholor was at the center of a controversy at a gentleman’s club, Nigel Bradham’s infamous umbrella incident happened, and there were numerous holdouts over contracts and of course an immediate QB controversy.
Fast forward a few years and the noise quietened down dramatically…until Alshon Jeffery decided to become a super-villain.
Jacksonville isn’t Philadelphia. The level of external pressure will be far less intense and allow Pederson to focus on the most important task – developing a football team and sustaining its growth.
The Jaguars lack any kind of identity right now thanks in large part to Urban’s chaotic tendencies. It may sound cheesy, but from the underdog era, all the way to targets being on the back, Doug Pederson had his team motivated. He had a clear coaching style and became renowned for his aggressiveness. While success varied and factors switched, the core of Pederson’s principles remained the same. That kind of stability would act as a perfect base to build on.
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