JACKSONVILLE – The head coach mattered this week. More than a little, actually.
With six members of the Jaguars' 2022 free-agency class speaking to the media Thursday, two themes stood out among the four offensive players in the group. One theme: the importance of quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Just as important: The presence of Head Coach Doug Pederson.
"A big part of my decision was Doug coming here," tight end Evan Engram said.
Pederson, hired by the Jaguars in early February, spent 2016-2020 as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach. The Eagles made the postseason from 2017-2019 and won Super Bowl LII following the 2017 season.
"I know a couple of the guys that played for Coach Doug [Pederson] and they said nothing but great things about him," offensive guard Brandon Scherff, who played the past seven seasons for Washington, said.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk said Pederson 100 percent factored in his decision.
"Anytime you get a chance to play for a head coach that has won a Super Bowl and has been there and knows what it takes, that's definitely enticing," said Kirk, who played his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. "He knows what it takes to get there and he's going to put us in the best position and coach us to get to that point because that's our ultimate goal.
"We're going to have to work towards that but having him being our head coach was definitely a big factor."
Engram, a first-round selection by the New York Giants in the 2017 NFL Draft, played against the Philadelphia Eagles twice a season from '17-20 when Pederson was the Eagles' head coach – matchups that left an impression.
"Just the versatility of offense," Engram said. "We could be in 11 personnel, we could be in 12 personnel, two tight ends, we could have three tight ends on the field at once and teams are going to have to make a decision to play that way to defend that."
Said wide receiver Zay Jones, "That's one of the things that drew me here, too – that I'm able to do multiple things. I can be used in multiple ways – however my quarterback, my team, my coaching staff sees fit. That's what I've built my career on, just being the greatest weapon I can be."
Pederson, who has a reputation for effectively using tight ends, liked the Jaguars at that position before free agency. He said Wednesday that adding Engram made him like it even more. "It makes that room just a little bit better," Pederson said of a position that now includes Engram, Chris Manhertz, Dan Arnold and Luke Farrell. "You throw in Dan Arnold and now you have a couple of guys who can really stretch the field along with Manhertz and Farrell. That room has been one of the better rooms on the team and now we've made it a little bit better." Engram spoke highly of Pederson's reputation with the position, saying: "Just his knowledge and views of tight ends and putting them in positions to be successful and to kind of be that security blanket for the quarterback but also be an explosive piece … that's how I view myself and then that's the vision he has for myself in this offense."
Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke on the importance of culture in free agency: "The first thing you do is find out if they're a culture fit. Why go through all the work of finding out if they fit you schematically or if they fit you from a physical perspective if they don't fit the culture you're trying to build? We took a hard look at that, did a lot of research on all these guys. Everybody who was available and we had an interest in on some level, we took a deep dive on those individuals. And then you start the process with the coaches from there: 'These are the guys who fit from a culture standpoint then you start breaking them down physically and how they fit the system offense, defense and special teams.'"
Scherff: "I just try to do everything the right way, just try to be that leader on and off the field for anybody. If we have young guys, I try to lead by example and show them the right way to do things. And just go about my business and do everything at 100 percent."
The newest Jaguars arrive in Jacksonville, Florida for a tour of TIAA Bank Field and to put pen to paper on their new contracts. Swipe through to view top photos from Day 1.