On the one-year anniversary of Pederson being hired by the Jaguars, it is time to reflect on his first 365 days on the job.
365 days ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars made one of the most important moves in franchise history.
This time a year ago, the Jaguars were seven weeks removed from the Urban Meyer embarrassment and, finally, found the coach who could lead them into the future: Doug Pederson.
Pederson was officially announced as the Jaguars' next head coach on Feb. 3, 2022, and the last year has done nothing but prove that Jaguars owner Shad Khan nailed the all-important hire.
"Doug Pederson four years ago won a Super Bowl as head coach of a franchise in pursuit of its first world championship," Khan said in a statement after the hire. "I hope Doug can replicate that magic here in Jacksonville, but what is certain is his proven leadership and experience as a winning head coach in the National Football League. It's exactly what our players deserve. Nothing less.
"Combine this with his acumen on the offensive side of the ball, and you have why I am proud to name Doug Pederson the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I know our fans will warmly welcome Doug and his family to Duval and I personally look forward to having Doug as part of everything we envision for the team, downtown and community in the years ahead."
Every word Khan said then has since been proved correct with gusto; Pederson's ability to scheme and call an offense led to the Jaguars having a top-10 offense, a Pro Bowler in second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a 1,000-yard receiver, and a 1,000-yard rusher.
And after proving that his teams just have the special, magical ability to go on runs with the Eagles, Pederson did just that with the Jaguars in 2022. After four wins in the previous two years combined, the Jaguars went 9-8 in 2022, recovering from a 3-7 start and finishing the year as AFC South champions and with a playoff victory under their belt.
“I think for us this season, I think there is a sense of accomplishment for everything this team has gone through over the last year and a half. To go from one of the worst teams record-wise a year ago to winning a playoff game this year, there is a sense of accomplishment," Pederson said last week as he ended the season following a 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.
"It’s just a credit to these guys to have the, it all starts in the offseason, and it starts with adding the players that we added here in the offseason to build the foundation, to start there and just keep building upon that. It wasn’t a pretty season, by any means. We had that stretch in there that was pretty rough on us. Every guy in there right now, they all had a belief that we could accomplish our goals, and they never wavered from that. It’s a credit to them for kind of sticking to it. It really is something to build upon with the accomplishments that we did this year.”
Through all of the curveballs thrown at the Jaguars in 2022 -- and there were quite a few of them -- Pederson was always the calm, even-keeled captain with a firm hand on the wheel of the ship. No matter how high the waves got, Pederson calmed the waters and the Jaguars fell in line behind him.
Yeah, I just think Doug is an incredible leader. When you are an incredible leader like that, there's a lot of traits that you have to possess. One of the ones that he has is just connecting with everybody," Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk said in January. "He connects with everybody within the locker room. He treats us fair, and he sticks to his word. He is always thinking about us, and he puts us first. To have a coach like that who is always going to put you in the right position to succeed, it's pretty easy to buy into. Then, when he keeps manifesting and telling us it's always going to be about us and it's going to come down to Week 18.
"He is saying these things that, maybe in other times guys may not believe, but when it's coming to fruition and it starts happening, it's pretty easy to buy into that. You just know that if you just stick to the course and stick to what we're trying to do here, all the goals and all the things we're trying to accomplish will happen. He has done an incredible job. Like I said, he is just an easy guy to buy into, and I know everybody in this locker room is very grateful to be able to play for him."
One year into Pederson's tenure, it is clear the Jaguars have their guy. They have a forward-thinking, aggressive, quarterback-centric head coach who has shown the ability to lead a group of coaches and players time and time again.
Whether it is from inside TIAA Bank Field's walls or outside of them, Pederson has commanded respect. In just 365 days, he has taken the Jaguars from the league's laughing stock to a team nobody wants to play in 2023.
A Jaguars team that used to celebrate getting to six wins has now raised its standards, solely because of the job Pederson has done.
"I will tell you, I thought Doug’s done a phenomenal job. Their team is better than they were when they played us before (in Week 10) and the sky’s the limit for them," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said after the Jaguars' playoff loss.
"They’re young and they believe in what they’re being taught and they play hard. And they’re well coached."
The next 365 days could go in any number of directions for the Jaguars and Pederson. But if they are lucky, they will go a lot like Pederson's first 365 days on the job went.
In one year, Pederson has elevated the Jaguars. He has helped them do more than turn a corner; he has defined the entire course.
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