JACKSONVILLE – This is a confident team, and that's good.
It's a team that's approaching confidence the right way, which matters to Head Coach Doug Pederson when assessing the Jaguars through three weeks of the 2022 NFL season.
It's also a team that will face a big test in a difficult environment Sunday.
"It will really see where we're at as a football team, and how we respond after having a little bit of success these last couple of weeks," Pederson said Friday morning.
The test for the AFC South-leading Jaguars (2-1): The NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m. The Eagles are the NFL's No. 1-ranked offense, the league's last unbeaten team and a team that early in the season has established itself as the division favorites and a possible Super Bowl contender.
"It's not only our next opponent, but it's a good opponent," Pederson said. "They're undefeated. They're playing extremely well in all three phases."
The Jaguars, after losing 30 of 33 games from Week 1 2020 to Week 1 2022, beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-0 in Week 2 and the Los Angeles Chargers 38-10 in Week 3. The Chargers and Colts were selected by many analysts to contend for the postseason.
The Jaguars rank first in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-seven, in takeaways with eight, and in rushing defense at 55.0 yards allowed per game allowed. Their 52-point margin of victory over the last two weeks marks their largest margin over such a span since the 2000 season.
"I've been really pleased with where the guys are, where they've come from, how they've come together as a team, the way they practice," Pederson said. "Right now it's just a matter of keeping that going, riding the wave and keeping the momentum.
"We know every season can't be a perfect season. There are going to be bumps in the road. It's how we overcome them – wins or losses. Sometimes success can cover up a lot of things and the second you lose a game, it magnifies everything. There's a fine balance there. It's my job as the head coach and leader to really point both out and make sure we stay on task.
"I've been really pleased with where the team is and the leadership. We want to continue that in a positive direction."
Pederson also said players and coaches mostly were "good" after Hurricane Ian passed through Central Florida and past Jacksonville over the Atlantic Ocean Thursday. The Jaguars remained in town Thursday and Friday, altering their schedule both days and practicing Thursday in the team's indoor facility adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
"I want to make sure No. 1 that players' and families' safety comes first, and make sure they were protected from the storm," Pederson said. "The guys have been engaged. They've been focused and trying to just work off the momentum from the last couple of weeks and get ready for another game.
"It has been a good week that way, and I think the guys are ready to go."
- Pederson on playing in Lincoln Financial Field Sunday: "Road games are different, whether you're playing in a dome or an outdoor stadium. I know first-hand this place can get extremely loud. We expect it to be loud. We use crowd noise [in practice]. We used it Thursday and again Friday. It's part of it. It's a great environment up there. It's great for football. It's a football town. Our guys handled the week of practice. They handled the noise. It comes down to communication. There has to be great communication among the players, and I feel like Thursday was a good day for that."
- Injury Update:
- Jaguars reserve outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson, on Friday, was added to the Jaguars' injury report after practicing limited with an ankle injury.
- Shaquill Griffin practiced limited all three days this week with a hip injury that kept him out of Sunday's game against the Chargers.
- Wide receiver Zay Jones practiced limited Friday with an ankle injury after not practicing Wednesday.
- Guard Cole Van Lanen practiced limited Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury.
- All four players are listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Eagles.