JACKSONVILLE – He's learning about his team, and likes what he's learning.
The Jaguars on Sunday lost narrowly for a fifth time in as many games, this time at Wembley Stadium in London. A day after, Head Coach Doug Pederson's message remained consistent:
This team is close. Now, it must continue to believe in itself.
"Now is the time we have to continue to rally around each other," Pederson said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos at their annual home game at Wembley. "I really like the guys and how they're working right now. We just have to keep working with them."
The Jaguars (2-6) led 10-0 in the first half Sunday, then took a 17-14 lead on a one-yard run by running back Travis Etienne Jr. with 3:54 remaining. A Broncos touchdown and a Jaguars turnover in the final two minutes led to the Jaguars' sixth one-score loss of the season.
The Jaguars have led in every game this season and have lost double-digit leads in three of six losses.
"We've got nine games left," Pederson said. "Our season is not even half over yet. We have a lot of football ahead of us and we just have to take care of business and keep focused on that. We just have to continue to build these players up. They're young guys who haven't played a ton of football in this league. We're continuing to teach them each and every day."
Pederson is in his first season with the Jaguars. In his first season as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach, 2016, the Eagles lost five consecutive games before winning their final two regular-season games and winning the Super Bowl the following season.
"I think about that obviously in our current situation here," Pederson said. "The No. 1 thing you find out is the men in the locker room. You find out the type of character they have and how strong your culture is. You don't want guys pointing fingers. You don't want guys to start making excuses.
"You don't want guys to start taking practices off. We have to continue to trust each other and continue to work."
Pederson, speaking to media via conference call, also on Monday afternoon discussed extensively Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, gave the Jaguars an early lead Sunday with a touchdown pass to tight end Evan Engram. He also threw two interceptions – one in the end zone early in the second quarter and a second on the Jaguars' final play from scrimmage with 1:43 remaining.
"The No. 1 thing is he understands, and I have to make sure he understands, that he doesn't have to do this by himself," Pederson said. "It takes 11 guys on offense. The quarterback and head coach get all the blame and all the praise. Right now, I know there's probably a lot on his shoulders. He understands, and I'll make sure he does, that he's not in this alone and that we're going to continue to work and build."
The first interception came on first-and-goal from the one, with Lawrence rolling to his right and throwing to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. in the back of the end zone. Safety Justin Simmons intercepted a yard deep in the end zone, a momentum-changing turnover similar to Lawrence's other end-zone interception this season – in a 13-6 Week 5 home loss to the Houston Texans.
"It's something that's obviously disappointing," Pederson said. "You're down there and you're first and goal. We just have to continue to teach. With Trevor – understanding football, understanding the situation of where we are … all that stuff comes into play. You don't have to force things. You don't have to chase plays. You don't have to try to make something that's not there.
"In reality, you have all four downs to score the touchdown in that situation. It's something we can learn from. We have to continue to teach it and coach it. We have to make sure as a staff that Trevor understands, No. 1. And No. 2, we don't make the mistake again moving forward."
Pederson said he doesn't want to curtail Lawrence's aggressiveness in such situations.
"At the same time, we've got to be smart," Pederson said. "We have to understand it's first and goal at the 1 and there are a lot of options available to you as an offense in those situations, and we just [have to know] we can't take points off the board."
- Pederson on the NFL's trade deadline, which is Tuesday at 4 p.m. EST: "Anything's possible. We're always going to do what's best for Jacksonville. We're always going to do what's best for the team. If teams call, you're obviously going to listen and be open to what they have to say or what they're interested in. But as of right now, the roster is what it is. I like the roster. We've got to continue to work and build it. But at the same time, if teams are going to call obviously you're going to take a listen."
Duval takes over London. From pregame huddles to fan interactions, Wembley Stadium was LOUD on Sunday for the Jaguars Week 8 matchup against the Broncos. 86,215 fans were in attendance, making it the largest crowd in the history of the NFL International Series in the UK. Swipe through to view game-day photos. 🏈