LONDON – Senior writer John Oehser examines Head Coach Doug Pederson's press conference following the Jaguars' 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in a 2022 Week 8 game at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday
- Belief remains strong in the team … Pederson in his first season as the Jaguars' head coach repeatedly has said in recent weeks that despite adversity and frustration he believes strongly in his team. He reiterated that point Sunday following a fifth consecutive loss – all decided in the final minute and three coming after the team lost a double-digit lead. The Jaguars have led in every game this season, with the defense allowing a go-ahead touchdown in the final six minutes of each of the last three games. "I'll tell you what: My hat's off to those guys in the dressing room," Pederson said Sunday. "They battle their tails off. We just keep plugging. We just keep plugging away, and we keep practicing and we keep learning, and we keep teaching, and we keep scratching and fighting. I truly believe that good things are going to happen for this football team. We're sitting here after eight games, not where we want to be, obviously, but to every man in there, nobody is going to hang their head. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We're not going to make excuses. We've just got to continue to work."
- … and in quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence had one of his more difficult games of his second season Sunday, completing 18 of 33 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown with two critical interceptions – one in the end zone by safety Justin Simmons in the second quarter and one on the Jaguars' final offensive play in the fourth quarter by cornerback K'Waun Williams. "Listen: We still have a lot of trust and a lot of faith in him," Pederson said of Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. "We're just going to continue to grow. We're going to grow together. I just told him to keep his head up, stay confident. I want to put the ball back in his hands and just show the trust that we have, that I have, in him and that the team has. He knows that we've got to be better in a few situations, but again, those are really good learning opportunities for Trevor."
- But the red-zone offense must improve … Red-zone offense has been an issue at times this season, and Sunday was another one of those times. Simmons' interception marked the third critical red-zone turnover in the last four games, with running back Travis Etienne Jr. losing a fumble in the end zone in a 23-17 loss to the New York Giants last Sunday and Lawrence throwing an end-zone interception in a 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans two weeks before that. Lawrence also threw a red-zone interception in a 29-21 Week 4 loss the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jaguars turned the ball over on downs in the red zone in a 26-22 Week 1 loss to the Washington Commanders. "It's been an area that we've kind of struggled in all season," Pederson said. "We kind of pride ourselves on trying to get touchdowns once we get into the red zone, but it's something as a staff we really have to take a look at and make sure we are putting our players in situations there and plays that they can be successful in. It's got to be a collective effort. Coaches, players, offensively, just making that conscious effort to get better."
- … and Lawrence must improve in the red zone, too. Pederson on Lawrence's red-zone issues: "You just keep coaching it. You just keep showing him. You just keep teaching. That's why we as coaches do what we do. We've got to continue to teach and just show Trevor and a lot of the players just those situations, and those are always the critical ones that seem to raise their head in games like this when it comes down to a one-score game. It's just unfortunate, but we've got to be smart, I think both coaches and players collectively, in those situations."
- Pederson believes improvement – and winning will come. Pederson's primary post-game theme was belief and he returned to it often: "I believe that we keep fighting and keep working the way they're working, good things will pay off eventually. We're just looking for that one to get it kind of started, and then we just build off of that. That's kind of where we are. Nobody likes to lose, right? That's the nature of the game. But if I had to pick, I'd rather pick these types of games than blowout games where you lose. I think you learn more in losses like this as a team, where we are with the culture of our team, than you would in a blowout loss. My hats off to the guys; nobody is going to hang their heads. We've just got to keep fighting."