2022 Coaching Carousel: Jacksonville Jaguars

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2022 Coaching Carousel: Jacksonville Jaguars

For the second time in his career, Doug Pederson is being asked to clean up a mess left behind by a former stud college coach who was in over his head in the NFL. And while Pederson took Chip Kelly’s leavings in Philadelphia and transformed the Eagles into a Super Bowl Champion within two years, he has a lot more work to do in Jacksonville. That’s because Urban Meyer was so far over his head that the Jaguars might have had the least appealing job on the NFL’s market this off-season, especially since it meant having to work with GM Trent Baalke (apparently a sticking point for another candidate, Byron Leftwich) and owner Shad Khan.

Of course, to borrow from Tupac Shakur, there is a rose growing from the concrete here. While he didn’t have a very good rookie season on a horrible team with a bozo at head coach, second-year QB Trevor Lawrence was the consensus top pick in last year’s draft, and there’s still plenty to like about the 22-year-old’s ability. Before injuries and locker-room issues derailed their partnership in Philly, Pederson had developed Carson Wentz into an MVP candidate, while Pederson brilliantly coached Nick Foles to an improbable Super Bowl MVP run. Then, in his final season with the Eagles, Pederson changed his offense on the fly to accommodate the skill set of Jalen Hurts.

Pederson changed a culture in Philly swiftly and successfully in his last stop — he was a popular fit in a locker room that really was not sad to see Kelly go, and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said a key in Pederson’s hiring was the “emotional intelligence” that Kelly lacked. But at least Kelly had some on-field success before things went wayward, and the cupboard wasn’t bare from a talent standpoint (the Eagles have had exceptional offensive line talent for the better part of a decade). There’s a lot more work to do here in Jacksonville after the Meyer disaster, but at least Pederson has a gifted young QB.

The Doug Pederson File

  • Age: 54

  • Playcalling Experience: Kansas City (occasionally from 2013-15), Philadelphia (full-time from 2016-20)

  • Other Coaching Experience: Eagles head coach (2016-20), Chiefs offensive coordinator (2013-15), Eagles quality control/QB coach (2009-12)

  • Offensive Coaches Worked Under: Andy Reid (2009-15)

  • Notable: Super Bowl Champion as both a player (XXXI) and head coach (LII). Won the FCS National Championship in 1987 while at Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe). Fifteen-year NFL QB (1991-2004), making most of his reputation playing under Andy Reid and Mike Holmgren. He backed up Dan Marino and Brett Favre, and mentored Donovan McNabb.

Potential Offensive Changes

Pederson comes from the Andy Reid school of coaching, and he’s a former quarterback, so he definitely believes the old adage “throw to get ahead, run to keep the lead.” But in order to keep Lawrence clean and allow him to progress, the Jaguars must invest in the offensive line. Fortunately, Pederson inherits the #1 overall pick in a class with a lot of top offensive tackles. The Jaguars will even have flexibility to trade back, accrue more capital, and still take a high-end tackle. I will be stunned if the Jaguars’ first-round pick is anything but an anchor on the end of the line.

To help the offensive line, expect a ton of 2-TE sets from Pederson. Per Sharp Football, Pederson’s Eagles led the NFL in percentage of plays run with 2 TEs on the field in each of his last three seasons with the team. (Jacksonville was just above league average at 23% last season.)

Pederson will also bring an aggressive mindset to the Jaguars, and that was always one of the most refreshing things about his offenses in Philadelphia.

Based on how aggressive Nick Sirianni was this year, aggressiveness is an organizational philosophy in Philadelphia, but the fact that Ryan Paganetti is coming with him to Jacksonville is a good sign.

Now, on to the potential bad news. One of the reasons Pederson was fired in Philadelphia was his lack of willingness to go outside his circle for his coaching staff. Pederson’s OC in Jacksonville will be Press Taylor, who was oft-criticized in Philadelphia for how his ascension coincided with the decline of Carson Wentz.

Separating Pederson and Taylor from Wentz — whose struggles in 2021 despite playing under Frank Reich clearly indicated the former MVP candidate won’t ever be coming back — will be fascinating.

Upgrades

​​Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on the playcaller changes.

Literally the entire offense — Look, it’s not like we think Pederson is the next coming of Don Coryell, but at the bare minimum he’s a capable NFL head coach with plenty of experience in the league as both a player and play-caller. At best, he’s an elite gameplanner who can take a team to the Super Bowl. We know this because we’ve seen it.

The Jaguars were a disaster under Meyer, and that cannot be overstated.

A lot remains to be seen on how the Jags build their roster this offseason, and there’s a near certainty the offensive line will be a big focus. But Pederson’s presence will be good for Lawrence, and perhaps great, while Pederson will also potentially get a lot out of the James Robinson/Travis Etienne 1-2 punch in the backfield (during the Super Bowl run in Philly, Pederson had a very active three-man RB rotation).

Another player who stands to benefit is TE Dan Arnold, based on Pederson’s heavy usage of TEs.

To borrow from our Jake Tribbey

“During Pederson’s five-year tenure as the Eagles’ HC, Philadelphia TEs led the league in cumulative FPG three times, and finished top-4 the remaining two seasons, averaging 20.6 FPG over that stretch. And with Pederson as OC from 2013 to 2015, Kansas City TEs averaged 13.0 FPG. Assuming Pederson stays true to his tendencies, that’s somewhere between a 36% and 117% increase to cumulative TE FPG for Jacksonville, who averaged just 9.5 FPG in 2021 (25th).”

While Arnold doesn’t have the pedigree of either Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert, Pederson’s heavy TE packages will be a big benefit for Arnold. Don’t be shocked if the Jaguars make a move to get a second capable TE through the Draft or free agency as well.

Joe Dolan, a professional in the fantasy football industry for over a decade, is the managing editor of Fantasy Points. He specializes in balancing analytics and unique observation with his personality and conversational tone in his writing, podcasting, and radio work.

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