JACKSONVILLE – Much has been done. Much more remains.
The Jaguars on Saturday will host their first playoff game in five seasons. Getting there was hard. And cool. And memorable. And as Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson sees it, that's a good start.
But it's only a start.
"These guys know there's something bigger out there," Pederson said Thursday as the AFC South Champion and No. 5-seeded Jaguars (9-8) prepared to play the No. 4-seeded Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at TIAA Bank Field Saturday at 8:15 p.m.
"The teams in the postseason are all chasing that right now."
Pederson, speaking Thursday during his final media availability of the week, said he liked the feel of the young Jaguars as many prepared for their first postseason game.
"I haven't seen a difference with the team, which is a good thing," he said. "We just have to focus on our jobs."
Saturday's game marks the first postseason appearance for all but 10 Jaguars players, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence - -like Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert – making his NFL postseason debut. The Jaguars' 10 players with postseason experience have played 30 total postseason games.
Pederson, in his first season as the Jaguars' head coach, coached the Philadelphia Eagles to three consecutive postseason appearances from 2017-2019 – a stretch that included a Super Bowl victory following the 2017 season. He said a head coach often can sense tightness or nerves.
He also said he gets no sense of that from the Jaguars.
"You can sense that with guys," Pederson said. "Being loose and focused is really good. Too loose can be a little different. You want the guys to not be tight. You wanted to play freed up, especially their minds. They need to have fun with it and at the same time, enjoy the moment.
"You have to stay within the context of the framework of the week and keep it locked in and dialed into this week. A good, good Chargers team is coming out here, but I haven't seen anything with the guys that would lead you to believe that they're looking past anything or that they're more excited this week than last week."
The Jaguars, after a five-game October losing streak dropped them to 2-6, won seven of their last nine games – and finished the season on a five-game winning streak. They clinched the South title with a 20-16 home victory over the Titans Saturday, a game both teams needed to win, to win the division.
The Jaguars overcame a four-game deficit in the South with seven games remaining.
"I think the last month of the season has kind of prepared us for this," Pederson said. "These were all must-win games and no bigger than last weekend. This is a little different. The atmosphere will be different. The pace will be a bit different. The pace will be a little different.
"That's just the way it is in the postseason."
- Pederson: "I'm excited for the team. I'm excited for the guys. They worked a lot, worked really hard to put themselves in this position. Where they've come from just says a lot about the leadership of the group. I'm happy for them. It's definitely a team effort."
- Pederson: "We're heading in the right direction. Ultimately until you can win that final game, you're still a work in progress. You're still learning and you're still growing that's where we're at. We're still trying to get better as a football team, together. We still have some challenges ahead."
- Lawrence was among five players listed as questionable with a toe injury on the Jaguars' final injury report of the week Thursday; he practiced limited all three days this week and has played the last five games with the issue. The four other players listed as questionable Thursday: wide receiver Kendric Pryor (shoulder), wide receiver Jamal Agnew (shoulder), long snapper Ross Matiscik (back) and right guard Brandon Scherff (abdomen). Matiscik and Scherff both played through the injuries last week. Also: kicker Riley Patterson practiced full for a second consecutive day Thursday after missing practice with right knee soreness Tuesday.