JACKSONVILLE – They're rested, and they're ready.
The Jaguars after a late-season bye will begin the post-Thanksgiving phase of the 2022 season at home against the first of several contending opponents still on the schedule.
Seven games remain, and Head Coach Doug Pederson likes the state of the team.
"They came back energized, ready to go … eager," Pederson said Friday morning as the Jaguars (3-7) prepared to play the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (7-3) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We've had a couple of good days of practice, but they came back ready to go."
The Jaguars, after a 2-1 start, lost six of their next seven games – snapping a five-game losing streak with a Week 9 home victory over the Las Vegas Raiders before losing in Week 10 on the road to the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs entering the bye.
Jaguars coaches focused largely on self-scouting early in the time between games, with the focus offensively on finishing drives better by improving in the red zone and defensively on simplifying the approach for a unit that struggled in pass coverage several weeks before the bye.
"You don't spend a lot of time prepping for this game," Pederson said. "You spend more time looking at the first 10 and really evaluating that and trying to come away with some solutions, some answers, maybe some different things that we haven't shown or could possibly show here in the next seven games. It's more about that and sort of the self-scout than it is kind of prepping for your next opponent."
Among the post-bye Jaguars storyline: rookies Chad Muma and Devin Lloyd are expected to rotate at inside linebacker alongside veteran captain Foye Oluokun after Lloyd started and played most of the snaps in the first 10 games.
Pederson said Lloyd has handled the change "really good."
"He's done a nice job of just accepting where he is but at the same time, he continues to work, and special teams becomes more important for him," Pederson said. "Him and Chad sort of flip roles just a touch. He's been in a great frame of mind this week, and that's what you want in situations like this, and it kind of frees them up a bit."
Pederson's Philadelphia Eagles teams from 2016-2020 were typically strong late in the season, particularly during the team's three playoff seasons – 2017-2019 – during his tenure as head coach. The Eagles went 14-7 during the final seven games of those three seasons.
"I think teams really begin to understand who they are from the middle season on," Pederson said. "I think that's what we're experiencing a little bit, kind of who we are, the identity of the football team. The success, too, is just continuing to work hard and practice good and practice well and play well. Again, coming out of the bye, some of the things you can do differently moving forward help you. Things that the opponents probably haven't seen, in the first few weeks of the season.
"It's just a matter of continuing to improve, playing your best football, obviously, toward the end of the year if you're in a position to go to the postseason, you know you want to be playing your best ball in the last month and a half of so of the year."
- Pederson on Friday discussed the Jaguars this week claiming running back Darrell Henderson off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams. Henderson, a third-round selection by the Rams in the 2019 NFL Draft, started 28 of 50 games for the Rams with 1,742 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing on 396 carries and 66 receptions for 474 yards with four touchdowns. "He's a veteran guy, been in the league here a couple years, and he's a nice downhill guy," Pederson said. "This is not anything against [running backs] Snoop [Conner] or JaMycal [Hasty] at all. We started the season with four, and this will give us an opportunity to keep four in that room." Pederson said Henderson won't likely play Sunday.
- The Jaguars on Friday listed no players on the week's final injury report. It was the third consecutive day they listed no players on the report.