NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson's post-game press conference following the Jaguars’ 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday
- Just disappointing. Disappointment was the overriding Jaguars theme Sunday, and it shone through when Pederson spoke to the media after the game. The Jaguars, after starting the season 8-3, lost five of their final six games and were eliminated from AFC South title contention – and from the postseason – with Sunday's loss. Players throughout the locker room struggled to explain their emotions after the game. Coach Pederson put it simply by saying "It's disappointing...It's disappointing the way we finished our season. Obviously, it's definitely not good enough. Things start with me, and I have to make sure that I'm holding myself accountable and doing all I can to help our football team win, on and off the football field. But it's just not good enough."
- Inches away. The Jaguars, after trailing 28-13 early in the third quarter, trailed 28-20 early in the fourth quarter Sunday and had a chance to tie the game midway through that final period. First, safety Andre Cisco intercepted Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill and returned it 28-yards to the Titans 28. The Jaguars drove and faced third-and-goal at the Titans one. "At that point, where it was in the game, three points really didn't matter," Pederson said. "You're going to need a touchdown at some point. So, if you get the touchdown and two points right there, you're back in the game." Quarterback Trevor Lawrence rolled right and threw incomplete on third down. On fourth down, he tried to dive and reach the ball over the goal line, but his reach was inches short and the Titans' maintained their 28-20 lead with 7:13 remaining. The Jaguars took possession just once more, with Lawrence throwing incomplete on fourth-and-two from the Jaguars 33 with 1:50 remaining. "Trevor's trying to make the play," Pederson said. "Obviously, he had success in the past on it, just came up inches short. But you can't fault him for trying to make a play." Added Pederson, "He saw something that wasn't the actual play call. But if he saw something there and he had an opportunity to sneak it with his length, usually that works."
- Microcosm. Pederson spoke throughout the season of needing to eliminate avoidable mistakes such as pre-snap penalties, turnovers, missed assignments, etc. Part of his disappointment Sunday was that those themes were repeated with the postseason at stake. Lawrence threw two interceptions, and the Jaguars committed three pre-snap penalties Sunday. "Today's game was sort of our season in a nutshell really," said Pederson. "The mistakes, the penalties, the turnovers, the missed tackles … those were all the things that hurt us down the stretch." Pederson added, "I don't think there was one single issue. I think there were multiple issues. We talked a lot about it this season: Execution, third down, red zone. You look at the turnovers versus the takeaways. The penalties. All those things just add up. We just didn't play clean football games. You just can't give your opponents that many opportunities in the game. You just can't, it's hard to overcome. I think there's a few things you can really kind of pinpoint."
- Year-to-year, week-to-week. The difference between the Jaguars at the end of the 2022 season and the end of the 2023 season was stark. The team won its last five regular-season games last-season to win the AFC South title. They lost five of their last six regular-season games this season to miss the postseason with a loss Sunday. "You have to remember this is a new year," Pederson said. "This isn't last year. The teams we play are good football teams. They get paid to stop us, and we get paid to stop them and, move the football and vice versa. It's kind of case-by-case. Its year-by-year. It's game-by-game. This is a week-to-week business. It's how well can you perform for three hours on a Sunday afternoon then you put that one behind you and you go to the next one. You put that one behind you, and you go to the next one. We didn't do that consistently enough. It goes back to the penalties and the turnovers. You won't be consistent if you don't get that fixed. If you don't stop the run or at least slow a run team down, you just can't gain the consistency you want. Those are all things I need to look at going forward."
- Pederson: "Me personally, I'm frustrated, I'm disappointed, I'm mad, I'm angry. My heart hurts, obviously for the players and coaches involved. They've worked their tails off. I know we're a good football team. I see it during the week in how the guys prepare. I have to look at why it doesn't show up on game day and those are all the things I'll take a look at in the coming weeks."