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Jaguars insider: "Where we need to be…"

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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins October 17th, 2021

JACKSONVILLE – Doug Pederson's perspective hasn't changed much.

Pederson, in his first season as head coach, has said multiple times in recent weeks that the Jaguars remain "where we need to be" in terms of development. Asked this week where he believed the team was in the wake of a recent four-game losing streak, he replied:

"Right where we need to be."

Pederson, speaking Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-5) prepared to play the Denver Broncos (2-5) at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday, continued:

"Listen, I wish we had a few more of these wins. We are 2-5 and I do believe the team is in a really good place mentally. This is a good group to coach."

The Jaguars, after finishing 1-15 and 3-14 the last two seasons, have lost five games this season by a score or less. They have led in every game, with all five losses decided in the final minute.

They have improved significantly offensively, currently ranking seventh in the NFL in total yards (371.3) and 16th in points (22.1) after ranking 27th (305.4) and last in points (14.9) last season. They have scored 20 or more points in five of seven games after reaching that total five times in 17 games last season.

"It obviously hasn't been good enough to win more games, and that's the main goal," quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "That's really all we're talking about, but we've been able to move the ball on everybody we've played. We've had a lot of yards in pretty much every game we've played, but we've just got to kind of put together a complete game more frequently, more consistently.

"We look at all that, and we know what we're capable of. We've shown when we're at our best, and we're playing well, we're a great offense, so we've got to get back to that and being more consistent."

They have allowed a game-winning touchdown in the final six minutes the last three weeks. Wide receiver Christian Kirk this past Sunday was stopped on the one-yard line on the final play of a 23-17 home loss to the New York Giants.

"They're still hungry and working hard and doing the right things to try to get this thing flipped around," Pederson said.

Pederson, too, said he is encouraged by recent developments of Lawrence, who has nine touchdown passes with four interceptions after 12 touchdown passes with 17 interceptions last season. He led an 84-yard fourth-quarter drive to give the Jaguars a late lead in a Week 6 loss to the Colts before leading a 74-yard drive in the final minutes that ended with Kirk at the one against the Giants this past Sunday.

"The next step is obviously we as a team need to finish and win those games – not only for him, but for the team," Pederson said. "He has shown us now that he can put the team kind of on his back and lead them down. That's what you have to have.

"There's so much parity in the NFL. These games come down to the fourth quarter, quite honestly. He's definitely heading in the right direction for us that way."

Said Lawrence, "You're always learning something. You're frustrated you didn't get it done, but there are so many things from tape that it's a lot easier to learn from it when you experience it. You can watch clips of other people doing it, but it's a lot easier when you go through it yourself.

"You look at the positive of all this that we've been able to learn from. We've had a lot of crazy situations, and I think we've gotten better and better as an offense. "

NOTABLE

  • With Travis Etienne Jr. now the unquestioned starting running back after the Jaguars traded James Robinson to the New York Jets Tuesday, Pederson on Wednesday was asked about Etienne's ball security. Etienne, who has rushed for 415 yards and a touchdown this season on 68 carries, also has three fumbles – and lost a red-zone fumble against the Giants this past Sunday. Pederson called ball security "a point of emphasis every day," adding "I don't go over-the-top crazy with a lot of that stuff. I think it has to happen naturally. When you start putting it in his head, then he's tense and tight and he's not the runner we want him to be. He understands he has to carry the ball better. It has to be a little tighter to his chest, wrist above the elbow, all of those things. We work on it every week, every day. We just have to keep going."
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