JACKSONVILLE – With success has come the accompanying and expected attention.
Now is the time to handle that correctly.
The Jaguars have won their last two games by a combined 52 points, a remarkably sudden change for a team that won four games the past two seasons. Head Coach Doug Pederson said he expects them to handle the accompanying praise and attention of fans and media just fine.
"I expect the team to handle it: One, with class; and two, with just, 'OK, that's fine,''' Pederson said Wednesday as the Jaguars (2-1) prepared to play the Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We still have to go do work every day. That starts with me during the week, setting the tone and just keeping us focused on the task."
Sunday marks a matchup of division leaders, with the Jaguars leading the AFC South and the Eagles leading the NFC East. The Eagles rank first in the NFL in total yards per game, with the Jaguars sixth in the category. The Eagles rank fifth in yards allowed per game with the Jaguars seventh.
The Eagles have outscored opponents 72-21 in the first half while the Jaguars have outscored opponents 48-19 in the second half. The Jaguars pulled away from a 16-10 lead with three consecutive extended touchdown drives to start the second half in a 38-10 road victory over the Los Angeles Chargers this past Sunday.
"It's a credit to the guys, really," Pederson said of the strong second halves. "We make subtle adjustments at halftime, then still try to execute the game plan. I think the guys feel some energy when you have a lead at halftime; there's some of that. Leaning on the run game a little bit has helped open up some things.
"We talk about sort of that middle eight [minutes] of the game, the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third. It's important that the offense gets points or the defense gets off the field. Those are things we talk about and stress all the way back to the offseason."
- Pederson on Wednesday discussed the statue that depicts him and Nick Foles that sits outside Lincoln Financial Field. The statue commemorates the "Philly Special," the play that helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl following the 2017 season when Pederson was the Eagles' head coach and Foles was their quarterback. "Personally, I've never seen it in person," Pederson said. "It's an honor. It really is. It's something we accomplished as a team and an organization. It's a nice reminder."
- Pederson said he may visit the statue "one day, after I retire. I have no plan to anytime soon."
- Pederson on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts' mobility: "You just have to stay disciplined as you rush. He can break an arm tackle pretty easily. He can make you miss pretty easily. You just have to be under control and disciplined as you try to tackle him – maybe get four hands on him and bring him down when you can. It's a challenge, very much so. If you get out of your rush lanes he can make you pay with his legs." Hurts, a third-year veteran, has four touchdown passes with one interception this season and has rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns.
- Pederson on playing at Lincoln Financial Field as an opposing team: "It's tough. It's extremely tough. The second you pull into that stadium, the fans are cheering, and fans are booing, and fans are yelling. It's a great environment for a football game. It's loud. The stadium's kind of right on top of the field. It's a challenge. It's a challenge to be able to handle crowd noise and try to keep your composure. We'll talk about that this week, just how to handle that. You have to block out the noise and focus on your job."