JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BVM) – The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the most exciting, young teams in the NFL.
A year ago, that statement might’ve sounded more like a joke than a reality with Urban Meyer running the show. Hired as the Jaguars’ head coach on Jan. 14, 2021, Meyer was fined $100,000 by the NFL for violating practice rules during organized team activities before he even coached a professional game. The former national championship-winning coach found himself in even more controversy as the season went on before being fired midseason on Dec. 16, 2021.
Meyer went 2-11 during his brief tenure in Jacksonville and his .154 winning percentage is the worst of any non-interim head coach since Cam Cameron’s .063 mark with the Miami Dolphins in 2007.
Since then, the Jaguars have undergone a complete organizational transformation and much of that is due to Doug Pederson who was hired as Jacksonville’s head coach in February.
“It’s a 180,” ESPN’s Jacksonville Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco said of the differences between last year under Meyer and this season under Pederson on an episode of BVM Sports Simple Question. “It’s a functional, professionally-run NFL franchise now. You have players who, last year, didn’t want to be there.
“I think we’ve all had jobs and bosses that we just didn’t like, going to work was a chore and you hated going to work. Well, multiply that by 53 guys on the active roster, 12 guys on the practice squad, the equipment staff, the training staff and assistant coaches. Just imagine what that atmosphere was like; people were miserable.”
DiRocco said the healing process from the mess Meyer created began in the spring when Pederson cut all the team’s veterans loose for mandatory minicamp. It showed that the franchise finally had “an adult in the room” as its head coach and the Jaguars are reaping the benefits of it.
After a rough start to the season that included five consecutive losses, Jacksonville is playing its best football of the Trevor Lawrence era.
It started with a comeback victory against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12 when the Jaguars rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit that was capped off by a game-winning touchdown pass by Lawrence with 14 seconds left. Then two weeks later, Lawrence threw for a career-high 368 yards with four total touchdowns during a 36-22 divisional win over the Tennessee Titans.
Trevor Lawrence since Week 9:
🔹 1,362 passing yards
🔹 10 TDs (0 INTs)
🔹 71.8% completion percentage (1st)
🔹 111.7 passer rating (2nd) pic.twitter.com/3klvWpiM2C
— PFF (@PFF) December 12, 2022
The massive win not only snapped an eight-game losing streak in Nashville, but it moved Jacksonville into second place in the AFC South, just two games behind the Titans.
“I just can’t imagine what it would be like here this year if Urban had been back,” DiRocco said. “We would be talking about Trevor Lawrence being a bust, we wouldn’t be talking about meaningful football in December; it would just be a mess.”
Lawrence is playing his best football as a pro and since Week 9, he’s thrown 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions and leads the NFL in completion percentage (71.8%). Some of Lawrence’s Year 2 success must be attributed to Pederson who helped backup quarterback Nick Foles win Super Bowl MVP as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach during a Super Bowl LII victory. Pederson has helped unlock Lawrence’s supreme potential after a rocky rookie season and has the Jaguars’ offense averaging 357 total yards of offense, good for 11th in the NFL.
The former Super Bowl-winning head coach has already won his new team over and now, it’s about finishing the season strong in hopes of getting his franchise quarterback some playoff experience.
“Doug Pederson has the reputation of a player’s coach but he’s been hard on them when he’s had to be and these guys actually love him,” DiRocco said. “Andrew Wingard, the safety, a couple weeks ago after they beat the Ravens is talking about ‘I would die for Doug Pederson.’
“He’s a former NFL player, a former quarterback and he’s got a Super Bowl ring so all that instant credibility has sort of just permeated throughout this locker room.”
#Jaguars S Andrew Wingard: "I'm so happy for Trevor Lawrence b/c he had to deal with Urban Meyer last year. I don't even knew if he had a rookie year."
Wingard has been with JAX since 2019. "I would die for Doug Pederson. I swear."
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 28, 2022