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NFL Annual Meeting: "You have to continue to push…"

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson speaks during the AFC head coaches availability at the NFL meetings, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson speaks during the AFC head coaches availability at the NFL meetings, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Doug Pederson is looking to the future.

The Jaguars' head coach likes what he sees there and is excited about what he believes is the potential to improve in his second season with the organization.

And it's very definitely past time to move past a successful and encouraging first season.

"We've got to put that behind us," Pederson said Monday morning at the 2023 NFL Annual Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore.

Pederson, speaking for about a half hour at the annual AFC coaches media availability/breakfast, discussed multiple Jaguars-related topics Monday – many of which will be discussed on Jaguars Media and in the coming days.

He also discussed league topics, and when discussing how his former team – the Philadelphia Eagles – might move on after a Super Bowl loss he also discussed the importance of the Jaguars re-focusing after winning their first AFC South title since 2017 before losing to the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional Playoff.

"You have to continue to push," said Pederson, who coached the Eagles to a Super Bowl title after the 2017 season. "It's about starting over. It's about hitting the reset button. Yeah, last year was great. It's very similar to what we did last year in Jacksonville. You get to the divisional round, you lose a game like that. …

"We have to push forward. We're going to put the pedal to the metal, as they say. Those are all things that I think about, either post Super Bowl – or in our case – after the postseason run."

Pederson on Monday also discussed the NFL free-agency period, which began March 15.

The Jaguars were far quieter to start the period than in Pederson's first offseason, with running back D'Ernest Johnson (formerly of the Cleveland Browns) and defensive linemen Michael Dogbe (Arizona Cardinals) and Henry Mondeaux (New York Giants) the team's lone free-agent signings so far this offseason.

All those players signed more than a week after the March 15 start of the 2023 NFL League Year.

The Jaguars last offseason signed free agents such as wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, linebacker Foye Oluokun, defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi, tight end Evan Engram and offensive guard Brandon Scherff during the early days of the league year.

"It's definitely a much different plan than a year ago," Pederson said. "Looking back to last year, there were some things we had to clean up. We had to fix. We had to add some guys, some impact players, which we did. This year was about trying to get our guys back."

"It's the hardest thing every year with free agency. You're going to lose some guys, some great guys, which we have. But at the same time, we have enough guys still on our roster, guys we got back, that still give us that depth we need and still give us that the youth that we need and the competition that we need."

The Jaguars retained Engram this offseason, placing the franchise tag on the seventh-year veteran. They also lost two important contributors from the 2022 season: right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs, and outside linebacker Arden Key, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Tennessee Titans.

The Jaguars also this offseason re-signed defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris and Adam Gotsis, safety Andrew Wingard, cornerbacks Tre Herndon and Tevaughn Campbell, running back JaMycal Hasty and quarterback C.J. Beathard.

"Those are just a couple of examples of those guys that, again, give us the depth that we need, but they're veteran players who have played and they can make an impact on your team," Pederson said.

Pederson called retaining Engram "critical to the success of our offense."

"You want to be able to sign those guys that were impact players for you," Pederson said.

General Manager Trent Baalke throughout this offseason has talked about this being an offseason in which the Jaguars began reemphasizing drafting and developing rather than building through free agency. Pederson reiterated that point Monday.

"Our philosophy – with myself and Trent – is if you don't have to spend a lot of resources in free agency, don't do it," Pederson said. "You want to be able to build through the draft and keep your team coming from the draft up.

"That was kind of the difference I think this offseason from the last year."

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