INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Doug Pederson likes his situation very much.
That was true when he took over as Jaguars head coach – and it remains true three weeks later as he takes part in his first Scouting Combine with the team.
“I’m excited about the team,” he said.
Pederson spoke in various forums Tuesday in Indianapolis — on a podium at national media, jaguars.com, local media and various other outlets. He again spoke positively about quarterback Trevor Lawrence and underscored his belief that the organization can change direction.
The Jaguars have won four games in the past two seasons, finishing each season with the NFL’s worst record and earning the No. 1 selection in the 2021 and 2022 NFL Draft.
“We’re not where we want to be,” Pederson said. “But we have the resources to make a difference, and to make a difference with Jacksonville — and to really start to remove some of the negativity that has surrounded this organization for so many years.
“I really think we can have an impact.”
Jaguars owner Shad Khan praised Pederson’s quick impact on the team’s culture on Tuesday, citing it as a reason to put his search for an executive vice president of football operations on hold. General manager Trent Baalke on Tuesday hailed Pederson as a “natural leader.”
“He really is,” Baalke said. “He comes into the building, he’s positive every day. I always tell him that. He’s the optimist, I’m the pessimist. I like to say I’m a realist. What a realistic? He really is a hidden pessimist. It was a good mix. He has a great personality. You like to be around him every day.”
Pederson was asked on Tuesday if dealing with negativity is a reality.
“It’s real,” he said, citing the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2-14 turnaround in 2012 to a perennial playoff contender. “It’s a real thing. [Chiefs Head] Coach [Andy] Reid took over a Chiefs team that the previous year had won a game or two. There is negativity and there is a cloud. You must try to lift this cloud.
“In Jacksonville, until we prove otherwise, that’s who we are. That’s why I’m excited to really start working with this group and bring in another group of free agents, another series of draft picks and having the resources we have to start with to clear that cloud a bit.”
Pederson said the time since he was hired on February 4 has been spent building a coaching staff – and also evaluating the Jaguars’ roster as he and Baalke prepare for unrestricted free agency , which is set to begin on March 16.
Pederson called the list a “work in progress.” The Jaguars are expected to enter the league year in mid-March with the second-largest salary cap space in the NFL. They also have 12 selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, including the No. 1 overall selection.
“The most important thing obviously was to assess our own roster,” Pederson said. “That’s kind of what we came out of with a new team – just assessing our guys and seeing the level of talent we have.”
Pederson spent 2016-20 as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, coaching the Eagles to three consecutive playoff appearances from 2017-19. The Eagles won the Super Bowl after the 2017 season, with Pederson spending the 2021 season out of football.
The Jaguars parted ways with former head coach Urban Meyer in mid-December, interviewing Pederson in late December and hiring him 35 days later. Pederson said he believed throughout the process that the Jaguars were the position he wanted – and cited the team’s youth and Lawrence’s presence as reasons.
“When I looked around for opportunities that might arise in the NFL, Jacksonville was an opportunity for me that I really took and I was hoping we would get to where I am today,” said Pederson said. “For me, that was the goal. Even though it took over thirty days for me to interview again, there was still this anticipation and hope that it was going to happen. I’m just excited and really grateful for the opportunity to have the chance to work with Trent and the team.”
Pederson on what he learned from his time as Eagles head coach: “Obviously what we’ve done, there are things I can take from this new chapter, this new job I’m motivated. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to working with a new team and really getting a new lease on life, especially as a head coach. I feel like I still have a lot to offer, a lot to give, a lot to bring to Jacksonville. I can’t wait to get my hands on this team and really start working with them.”