JACKSONVILLE – Considering what can be seen, he likes what he sees.
That's the takeaway from listening to Doug Pederson Tuesday. The Jaguars' head coach spoke to the media before Tuesday's organized team activities practice at TIAA Bank Field and acknowledged there is a limit to what really can be gleaned from this non-contact work.
Considering that, Pederson said he is pleased so far.
"It was good week for us," Pederson said of last week's Week 1 of OTAs.
OTAs represent the start of the third and final phase of the NFL offseason. As was the case during Phase 1 and 2, the work is voluntary and without pads. Unlike Phase 1 and 2, teams can hold 7-on-7, 11-on-11 competition-based drills.
It's not quite training camp practice, but it's as close as it gets in the offseason.
"We're throwing a lot at the guys," Pederson said. "And right now, the guys have really handled the information. They have taken it from the classroom to the practice field. That's really what we want to see right now. You can't see physicality and tackling and all of that yet, but the guys are moving in the right way.
"They're practicing fast. They're protecting each other. That's what we want to see. That's what I want to see this time of year."
Pederson, who coached the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl title following the 2017 season, was hired as the Jaguars' head coach February 6. He has talked often since then of the need to establish trust with players following a 2021 Jaguars season that featured multiple off-field issues – and the dismissal following 13 games of then-Head Coach Urban Meyer.
"As I gain their trust, I can push a little bit harder – and there is a fine line there," Pederson said. "There is a balance there. That just comes from understanding and really reaching out to players and seeing how they react to certain things.
"I want to push them in practice. I want to challenge them in practice. But at the same time, I don't want to overstep my bounds right now with them. At the same time, when I do that, I want to see the return back toward what we're doing. That's what I've seen. The more we continue to have that two-way communication and dialogue, I can continue to push a little bit harder.
"Obviously in the offseason we go a little bit easier. It happens more in training camp when the pads come on."
Pederson on Tuesday spoke optimistically about the defense, a group that features three first-round selections outside linebackers Travon Walker (2022) and Josh Allen (2019), and linebacker Devin Lloyd (2022). And second-round cornerback Tyson Campbell (2021).
The Jaguars also have addressed defense in a big way in free agency the last two offseasons with the addition of cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin (2021) and Darious Williams (2022), safety Rayshawn Jenkins (2021), linebacker Foye Oluokun (2022), defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (2021) and defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi (2022). That's a major turnover in two offseasons, and Pederson said of the defense: "There's enough veteran leadership on that side of the ball that really has embraced everything we're doing. I'm encouraged by that as a coach, and I know the defensive staff is encouraged by that. It's going to be exciting in [training] camp once we start putting pads on and start playing games. I'm looking forward to seeing where we are as a defense as we move forward."
Pederson on Memorial Day: "It's a great holiday for a lot of different reasons – being able to sit back and think about the service men and women who have provided freedoms for our country. I think about my dad, who was in the Air Force. It's a time to be with family and friends. Whether you're around the barbecue grill or whatever it is, it's a good time to take time. We've been at this [the offseason program) for several weeks. I really wanted the team to get away and recharge here for the next two and a half weeks moving forward."