JACKSONVILLE – The signs are there, and many of those signs are good.
The Jaguars, after starting 1-2, have won three consecutive games to move into sole possession of first place in the AFC South. A three-game winning streak is good. First place is really good.
Head Coach Doug Pederson likes the way the Jaguars acquired those things, too.
"Their confidence is extremely high right now," he said of the Jaguars (4-2) as they began preparing to play the New Orleans Saints (3-3) at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans Thursday at 8:20 p.m.
The Jaguars, who have won 12 of 17 games dating to last season, have trailed for just seven minutes and 10 seconds in their last three games. They have not trailed in the second half during that span.
"It's just learning how to win and how to sustain energy," Jaguars linebacker Foye Oluokun said. "It's a week-to-week business, so whatever we did last week is really pointless going forward because any team could beat you in the NFL. If you don't bring in the right mindset going forward into next week and throughout the whole week of practice, a team can jump out on you.
"It's really learning how to carry ourselves going into games, no matter who we're playing. When you talk about momentum, it's really learning yourselves as a professional and winning team in order to win games."
Pederson, speaking a day after a 37-20 home victory over the Indianapolis Colts (3-3) Sunday, spoke of all three units – offense, defense and special teams – playing well together during a three-game stretch that also included victories over the Atlanta Falcons (3-3) and Buffalo Bills (4-2).
"I see this team playing better together," he said. "We're playing better complementary football in all three phases, especially the last couple of weeks."
The Jaguars lead the NFL with 15 takeaways, scoring 17 points off turnovers Sunday.
"Things like that, that's the complementary element that that we talk about – and the confidence," Pederson said. "We're beginning to eliminate some of those mistakes that happened early in the season. They're not showing up as much. There's still some work to do. Those are some of the areas that I see that this team is really beginning to sort of mature and come together."
The Jaguars last season overcame a 2-6 start by winning seven of their final nine regular-season games. They rallied from at least a touchdown deficit in five of those games and trailed the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South by four games in mid-November.
This is the first time they have been two games over .500 and in first place in October or later since winning the AFC South in 2017. The last time before that they were two games over .500 and in first place in October or later was in 2010.
"It's hard wire-to-wire be the best team in the league and have the best record," Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson said. "I think the biggest thing from my experience is just to be peaking at the right times. I think that was what happened to us last year. Towards the middle of the season everybody was just like 'eh.' But towards the end of the season, we were rolling and then we just rolled right into the playoffs and we were able to have a little success.
"I think it's important to just make sure that we're peaking at the right times."
- Pederson during his Monday next-day media availability discussed the challenges of preparing to play on Thursday. "It's a short week" he said. "It is what it is. You understand that you're going to go through it. You have to get your team in here [Monday], you have to practice [Tuesday] and then you're on a plane heading to New Orleans. Guys are going to be sore, guys are going to be dealing with things. You don't have the full complement of a week for guys to feel somewhat normal. The game plan is the game plan. It's just based on what you see on film. You get something together for the game and you go play."
- With cornerback Tyson Campbell expected to miss Thursday with a hamstring injury sustained in Sunday's victory over the Colts, Pederson cited second-year cornerback Montaric "Buster" Brown and practice-squad cornerbacks Tevaughn Campbell and Erick Hallett II as possibilities to play outside in Campbell's place. The Jaguars also on Monday signed veteran cornerback Amani Oruwariye to the practice squad. "We have some options there," Pederson said.
- Cam Robinson on rookie right tackle Anton Harrison: "Everything physically you could have, he checks every box. I think he's just getting more comfortable and just getting more used to NFL football. I think everything with Ton will just be reps. The more reps he gets, the better and better he'll get. Physically, he's God-given. As long as he can stay on top of his stuff mentally and just keep getting better the way he has, I think the sky's the limit for him."