The Jacksonville Jaguars won the AFC South Saturday evening, just like everyone drew it up. Actually, they did it when many didn’t expect them to.
Jaguars’ Owner And General Manager Deserve Credit
The principal owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan, deserves a ton of credit for putting faith in his vision for his team. Since purchasing the team in 2012, the team has had mostly rough outings, but in the abyss of disappoints was a culture brewing for some time. After the team won the division in 2017, beating the Bills and the Steelers on the way to the AFC Championship, the team didn’t meet expectations. They ultimately lost, and the following four seasons saw the team fail to get above .500. However, the tide began to change even during the chaos.
#Jaguars' Khan on winning his 2nd AFC S title: "I'm speechless, but Doug [Pederson], Trent [Baalke], their staff, obviously the players what a difference they've made. And really people showing up – the 12, 13, 14, and 15th man and woman in the stands that got us over the edge. — Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) January 8, 2023
The organization doubled down on defense in several drafts and slowly began building an offense that could make Duval proud. First, General Manager Trent Baalke started his tenure in 2021 with critical pieces like quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne, and offensive tackle Walker Little. Then, he came back in 2022, adding more with names like Travon Walker, Devin Lloyd, Chad Muma, and Luke Fortner. The team made some waves in the 2022 free agency period by signing the likes of Brandon Scherff, Foyesade Oluokun, Arden Key, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, and Christian Kirk, who got a colossal deal.
To the naked eye, all of this sounds great in theory, but none of this works without someone to orchestrate. The Jaguars have found a keeper in head coach Doug Pederson.
Jaguars’ Pederson Deserves Coach Of The Year Consideration
When the Jaguars hired Urban Meyer in 2021, they hoped they would get someone to help this organization grow and restore them to a winning culture. Sadly, during Meyer’s 13-game tenure, he created a toxic culture, had many off-the-field antics unbecoming of a head coach, and was promptly fired in December 2021. A new coach, Doug Pederson, was hired in February of 2022. Pederson brought with him a 42-37-1 record and multiple playoff appearances. He also won this tiny thing called a Super Bowl with his backup quarterback, Nick Foles.
Still, Pederson had his work cut out for him. The team’s offense was a walking nightmare, landing at the bottom of the league in many categories. Additionally, Trevor Lawrence only looked like the first-round pick he was drafted to be when he played the Colts twice a year. And when the team started the season 3-7, many had doubts about this team and if they would continue to be stuck in limbo.
The Jaguars were 3-7 through 10 games. They became the second team all-time to make the playoffs after starting 3-7 or worse through 10 games. The other was Washington in 2020. pic.twitter.com/sXOikiBihd — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 8, 2023
But Pederson never wavered. The Jaguars put their heads down and went to work under his leadership, going 6-1 over their final seven games, by and large, due to Pederson finding what works. He played to the strengths of his offense and did something Meyer failed to do: get the most out of Trevor Lawrence.
Jaguars’ Quarterback Trevor Lawrence Has Arrived
Earlier this season, we highlighted how the Jaguars’ offense had arrived, but that only happens with William Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence hit a stride in Week Nine of the season and never looked back. Then, in mid-December, he played almost other worldly after the Jaguars rallied to beat the Ravens and Dallas Cowboys.
Trevor Lawrence:@PFF’s highest graded QB since Week 9@nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/mNBBuUzX4C — Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) December 22, 2022
Lawrence finally stopped second-guessing himself, becoming a disruptor on the field. Whatever opposing defenses wanted to do, he wouldn’t let them. Instead, Lawrence found ways to expose their weaknesses. And, if they managed to force him to make a mistake, he continued to fight and lead his team, shaking off any bad throws, turnovers, or sacks. His resiliency is to be commended. It’s what lead his team to a mammoth AFC South title just two seasons after 1-15 and 3-14 records.
All eyes are now on Jacksonville as they turn to the playoffs. They hope to continue the journey this weekend with a win over the Chargers. But no matter what happens, this team should feel proud of where it is and where it is going. They found their quarterback, coach, and an owner and general manager who believe in them enough to do whatever it takes to see them succeed. The Jaguars are once again the pride of Duval.