JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's post-game press conference following the Jaguars’ 26-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers in a 2023 Week 17 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Sunday
- Time for pride. Sunday was about winning – whatever form that took. The Jaguars accomplished that with their first shutout victory since 2022 Week 2 and did so with backup quarterback C.J. Beathard making his first start in three seasons with the team – so Pederson understandably emphasized pride in his post-game media availability. "After four weeks of a little bit of heartbreak, it's the one thing that I appreciate about our guys, they continue to roll up their sleeves," Pederson said after the Jaguars' snapped a four-game losing streak. "They continue to go to work. They know the mistakes they've made, that we've been making, but they continue to work, and they continue to work hard during the week, and it showed today. It might not have been just a pretty football game, but they never are. They're hard. They're gritty. They're tough. They're physical. All that kind of stuff. Just proud of our guys for the way they competed today."
- Win and in. There are multiple scenarios in which the Jaguars can make the playoffs. The clearest is that they are assured of winning the AFC South title for a second consecutive season if they beat the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn., next weekend, in a Week 18 game. They will not win the South if they lose that game. There are also multiple scenarios in which the Jaguars could make the postseason as a wild-card team. "Our guys really thrive on these situations, and that's okay," Pederson said. "It's a great opportunity for our organization, for our franchise, for our players, for our owner to be in this situation. And we have to go play another good football team on the road. And we'll enjoy this one obviously and prepare this week whenever we play."
- No chance for Lawrence. Pederson following Sunday's game addressed the health of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who missed a start for the first time after starting his first 49 regular-season games. Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, sustained a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Lawrence previously this season had played the following week after leaving three different games with a knee injury, an ankle injury and a concussion. "For this game, there was really no chance of him getting out there," Pederson said of Lawrence. "We'll see how he is this week, obviously. He'll do everything he can to try to get back out there if possible. If not, C.J. will be ready to go and we'll have [third-team quarterback] Matt [ Barkley] ready."
- Well-deserved milestone. Jaguars tight end Evan Engram caught six passes for 60 yards Sunday, with his second reception – a four-yarder in the second quarter – giving him 100 for the season. That made him the eighth tight end in NFL history with 100 receptions and marked the second 100-reception season for a Jaguars player in the team's history. Wide receiver Jimmy Smith caught 116 passes for 1,636 yards and six touchdowns in 1999. Engram this season has 104 receptions 884 yards and three touchdowns. "The tight ends can be the quarterback's best friend sometimes and Evan's been that way for Trevor the last couple of seasons," Pederson said. "He was that way today for C.J. He's a great leader. He leads a lot by example really during the week, how he's out to practice early, working on his craft. Always catching something, whether it be a tennis ball or a football, something anybody can throw at him. He challenges himself. That's why he's in these positions. That's why he's getting the accolades and the praise that he deserves. It's just because of who he is as a person and the way he works and challenges himself."
- Back-to-back above .500. While the Jaguars have yet to clinch a postseason appearance this season, Sunday's victory assured they will have a winning season for a second consecutive season for the first time since 2004-2005. The Jaguars had four consecutive winning seasons from 1996-1999 and also finished above .500 in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2017 and 2022. They were 4-29 in two seasons before Pederson became head coach in 2022, finishing with the NFL's worst record in 2020 and 2021. "Obviously that's why we're all here, is to win," Pederson said. "That's a credit really to the coaches. It's a credit to the guys in the locker room. You have to consistently have guys on your team that speak the same common language. Guys that work hard every single day, every single week. No matter what happens, they work through adversity. Proud of these guys."