JACKSONVILLE – Doug Pederson understands NFL reality.
As such, the Jaguars' second-year head coach knows expectations will be much higher following a 2022 AFC South championship season than they were entering that season.
He also knows those expectations can't be the focus.
"It's one game, it's one day, it's one player at a time," Pederson said Friday.
The Jaguars, after back-to-back seasons with the NFL's worst record, won their final five regular-season games in 2022 to rally from a four-game second-half-of-the-season deficit and win their first AFC South title since 2017. They return much of the core of that team, including third-year veteran quarterback Trevor Lawrence – the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
If many observers and fans expect a second consecutive postseason appearance, Pederson said such expectations mean little – and that expectations within the team aren't significantly different than this time last season.
"The expectation is to win," Pederson said. "That was our expectation last year, and and even though parts of the year weren't as good as other parts of the year, that still has to be a priority. You have to win games in this league.
"You guys know, you've heard it from me a million times. It's about the team and we keep the team in front and focused. It's the main thing and you have to keep the main thing the main thing, but yet expectations are to win games."
Pederson on Friday, too, discussed the team's culture. That was a major focus throughout the 2022 offseason, with Pederson focusing on gaining the players' trust following a difficult 2021 season on and off the field. Pederson on Friday was asked if this was an easier offseason with that culture having been established last season – along with strong leadership among players.
"It's easier from that standpoint, but at the same time you're still trying to keep that culture in front of the team," Pederson said. "These first four weeks or so of our offseason program, we continue to talk about that and continue to build upon it.
"Now when this rookie class joins us next week, the culture takes over. You're not constantly rebuilding that or working on it. The locker room is the locker room and they can absorb these players. They'll see right away the type of locker room that we do have and it shouldn't be an issue fitting in."
- The Jaguars' pass rush has been a major topic throughout the offseason, and Pederson on Friday said he liked the depth along the front seven following last month's 2023 NFL Draft and entering the full-practice portion of the voluntary offseason program. Asked about the possibility of adding a veteran pass rusher later this offseason Pederson said: "You're always looking, but we got some young players we're excited about and we have to give them opportunities to perform. We do have some really good depth at the d-line position now. What it's going to do is create some really good second- and third-level competition and, and see who can see who can work into that rotation." The Jaguars selected edge defender Yasir Abdullah in Round 5, defensive end Tyler Lacy in Round 4 and defensive lineman Raymond Vohasek in Round 7. They also extended contracts of defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris and defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton this offseason, and defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi will enter his second season with the team. "Those three guys are going to be guys we have to lean on," Pederson said, adding of players such as linemen Adam Gotsis, Jeremiah Ledbetter and De'Shaan Dixon: "There are a lot of combinations of things that we're going to experiment with once we get into OTAs and training camp. But the depth is there and it's a group that we can really create some good competition with."
View top photos of Jaguars players throughout rookie minicamp practice at TIAA Bank Field.