JACKSONVILLE – Urgency is paramount.
Head Coach Doug Pederson left no doubt about that Monday, making clear that the way the Jaguars' 2023 season ended was unacceptable. He made something else just as clear:
The time to improve dramatically on that season is at hand.
“Our window is now,” he said.
Pederson spoke to the media Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 2023 season ended with a 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn., in the regular-season finale. The loss cost the Jaguars a second consecutive AFC South title, eliminating them from the postseason and making Monday a day for Pederson to reflect on the past and address the future.
Pederson discussed the urgency felt within the organization to return to the postseason and win in the coming seasons.
"We all feel that," Pederson said. "The conversations I've had with [owner] Shad [Khan] over the last several weeks, really since Week One … you only get so many windows in this league. We feel like with the personnel we have, and that we continue to add, we have to make the most of our opportunities.
"[General Manager] Trent [Baalke]'s the same way. We continue to build the roster that way, and continue to add pieces. We just can't have the collapse like we did this year."
The Jaguars, after winning the last five regular-season games last season to win their first AFC South title since 2017, started this season 8-3. They lost five of their last six regular-season games.
"You feel like now this season's sort of wasted," Pederson said. "You had a great opportunity to win the division and we didn't. We have to live with that. We have to own it. We have to learn from it.
"I still feel like we still have the best football ahead of us."
Pederson, too, on Monday discussed the need to feel urgency throughout the season – day-to-day and week-to-week. The Jaguars, after leading the AFC South by two games after beating Houston in Week 12, lost the South because they finished a game behind the Houston Texans. Had they won Sunday, they would have won the South because of a tiebreaker advantage.
"Everything is connected," he said. "Go back to Week 2. We play the Chiefs. I mentioned to the team how this could have playoff implications even in Week 2. Then Week 3, you play the Texans … this could have playoff implications for the AFC South. Then you, you show up here today and it's like, 'Oh, OK, that's what he's talking about.'
"We can't get to that point. It has to be that sense of urgency where everything matters. This is all part of teaching the team how to win and preparing to win and focusing in on preparation and doing all those little things that as coaches we talk a lot to our players about. We can't just push it aside and say, 'Oh, we have 12 more games or 15 more games.' Or 'We still have a three-game lead in the division and it's OK.'
"It's really not because you can't let things slide. You can't let things slip. That sense of urgency is important to the success we have, especially down the stretch here when when everything began to matter."
- Pederson on Monday praised offensive coordinator Press Taylor, who assumed play-calling duties on a full-time basis this season. Pederson called plays in the first half of games in his first season as the Jaguars' head coach in 2022 with Taylor calling them in the second half of games. The Jaguars finished 13th in the NFL in total yards in 2023 (339.5 yards per game) after finishing 10th in the category in 2022 (357.4). They finished 13th in scoring in 2023 (22.2 points per game) after finishing 10th in 2022 (23.8). The Jaguars had 30 giveaways this season after having 22 last season. "I thought it went good," Pederson said. "Can it be better? Yeah, it can be better. When you struggle offensively, like we did at times, I don't care who's calling plays you, you might as well look at that thing with your eyes closed and just pick a play quite honestly, because it's hard. It's difficult. I've been there. You're trying to find that one play or a spark that gets your offense rolling. With the struggles that we had at times, that's a difficult thing, whether it's in the run game or the pass game, whatever it might be. I thought overall Press did a nice job organizing the offense, the game planning that we did, even calling. He did a nice job."