JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's postgame press conference following a 16-15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 2022 Preseason Week 2 game at TIAA Bank Field Saturday …
1. Pederson's not satisfied with OK … If there was a takeaway from Pederson's postgame presser Saturday, this was it. The Jaguars by any measure played well defensively Saturday, with the first team holding the Steelers scoreless on five of six possessions. The first-team offense also moved well, driving inside the Steelers' 40 on all four extended possessions. We'll focus this first entry on the offense, with Pederson saying of an offense that ran at least seven plays on its first four drives while managing just two field goals during that stretch: "Not good enough. We've got to finish drives with scores. That's something we talk about and work on quite a bit with the red zone, and we've just got to keep working. We've just got to keep plugging away and look at it and get better and make sure we get the right guys in there and get ready here in a couple weeks."
2. … and that goes for defense, too. The Jaguars' first-team defense in the last two weeks has played well, holding the Cleveland Browns to seven yards on three possessions last week and shutting out the Steelers on their first four drives Saturday. The defense also got good pressure up front against the Steelers, but Pederson focused more afterward on a 63-yard drive late in the first half that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kenny Pickett to running back Benny Snell Jr. for a 7-6 Steelers halftime lead. "Other than the two-minute drive at the end of the half, I thought they played well," Pederson said. "I really felt like they got after them early and often. Two-minute drive, though, is something that we've got to get better at."
3. Pederson wasn't entirely displeased offensively. The Jaguars converted 10 of 20 third downs Saturday, with the first-team offense converting five of nine. They entered the game converting six of 25 first downs for the season. "That was something we talked about this week and wanted to do better in is the third-down scenarios, and I felt like the first unit was able to do that," Pederson said. "We still missed. We still missed some opportunities, which again, we've got a little time here to learn from and correct as we finish up camp here in a week or so."
4. On the kicker. Pederson had this to say about kicker Ryan Santoso, who converted field goals of 53 and 25 yards but missed from 51 and 57 yards, with the 57-yarder missing as time expired: "Obviously not good enough. We had a chance to win the game, had a chance to start the game 3-0, and it's disappointing. But I know he'll battle back this week and try to correct it."
5. Griffin not serious. Pederson late Saturday updated two injury situations, saying cornerback Shaquill Griffin missed Saturday because of "back tightness" and adding that you "just don't want to push guys like that and risk further injury." Defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi left Saturday's game, with Pederson saying: "Last word I got was he was OK. He wanted to go back in the football game, but we just said pump the brakes and we'll get him healthy."
6. Praising the pass rushers. The Jaguars' defensive front seven was strong for a second consecutive game, with defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot forcing a safety and forcing a fumble that led to a Jaguars touchdown. Defensive lineman Arden Key registered an early sack and also forced a holding penalty with a quick, strong pass rush. Pederson called the duo "Dynamic pass rushers," adding that: "Smoot is a little different. He's more of a bull type guy. He's physical and strong. Arden is quick and slithery and can bend. I think both of them have unique skills that obviously we can exploit defensively for us, and I think they're both having a really good camp right now."
7. Focused on the run. The Jaguars settled for a field goal on their lone possession inside the Steelers 20, which came after quarterback Trevor Lawrence passed 22 yards to wide receiver Christian Kirk for a first down at the Steelers 12. Rookie running back Snoop Conner rushed twice for five yards before Lawrence passed incomplete to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. in the end zone. Santoso's 25-yard field goal capped the drive. "I made a conscious effort as a play caller when we did get to the red zone tonight that we were going to focus a little bit on the run game," Pederson said. "We kind of pride ourselves on that, being able to run the football in the red zone. We've got to do a little bit better there."