JACKSONVILLE – Doug Pederson is as pleased with the approach as he is with the results.
The Jaguars have won their last two games in a convincing, historical fashion. Pederson, in his first season as the Jaguars' head coach, likes a lot about what's happening on the field.
He likes, too, how the Jaguars are working/preparing to make those things happen.
"I've been pleased with the direction – the leadership – and where we are as a football team right now," Pederson said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 38-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
The Jaguars, after losing 30 of 33 games from Week 1 of 2020 through Week 2 of this season – with 18 of those losses by double digits – have won their last two games by a combined 52 points. That includes a 24-0 Week 2 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, and the last two weeks mark their largest back-to-back victories since 2000.
"It definitely feels different," said sixth-year defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot, along with left tackle Cam Robinson the team's second-most-tenured player. "I feel like we have a different kind of focus. It's motivation going into each week. We're looking forward to each opponent. We're prepared each week just differently.
"Each win that we're coming away with, we're just growing in confidence each week. I'm excited to see what we're going to do next week."
The Jaguars moved to 2-1 with Sunday's victory and lead the AFC South ahead the Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1), Tennessee Titans (1-2) and Houston Texans (0-2-1).
"Obviously it is headed in the right direction because of these last two victories," Pederson said. "But it's not so much how you begin the season as how you finish. There are going to be dips in the year. There's a lot of ball ahead of you and there are going to be dips. It's how you manage those.
"You want to be playing your best football not necessarily now but in December and January and hopefully through the postseason."
The Jaguars through Sunday's games rank sixth in the NFL in total offense at 375.7 yards per game and eighth in total defense at 306.7 yards per game. They lead the NFL with a plus-seven turnover differential after finishing last in the category at minus-20 in 2021. They are also tied for the NFL in takeaways with eight after forcing a league-low nine last season.
"What we've seen here in these first three weeks is just how well the guys have prepared themselves," Pederson said. "The coaches have done a nice job in preparation. You can't get to the end process until you get through a Wednesday. That's just what we focus on. We focus on one day at a time and work throughout the week."
Pederson, hired as head coach in early February, talked throughout the offseason about needing a change in culture and trust after the Jaguars' difficult 2021 season. He said Monday he sensed a changed mindset from players with high attendance in the voluntary offseason program this past spring.
"It showed they want to win; they want to flip it," Pederson said. "I've had guys during games come up and say, 'Hey, we're going to finish this game. We're going to do what's right. We're going to win this football game.' You're starting to see that.
"It just takes a little bit of success for them to believe, but I want them to believe first before we have success. That's more important than seeing it and then believing it. That's what they're doing. That started a little in the offseason, carried through training camp and here the first few weeks of the season that's what we're seeing. That's what's encouraging, is that they've bought into that."
Pederson: "There's a lot of football ahead of us. You never look past the current week you're in, the current situation we're in. We still have room for improvement, obviously. That's the exciting thing – that everybody embraces their roles and their opportunity when they get them."
Pederson on Monday said the Jaguars are monitoring Hurricane Ian as it approaches Florida and planning contingencies for practice and travel. "Those are all things we have to take into consideration," Pederson said. "We have people in-house who are monitoring that situation for us. We'll be prepared either way. If we stay, we'll be prepared. If we have to move out of here for some reason – weather-related – then we'll be prepared for that, too. Nothing should change that."