JACKSONVILLE – As Doug Pederson sees it, this is as it should be.
The Jaguars entering a Week 9 bye lead their division and are tied for the best record in the AFC. They have their best record through eight games since 1999. Those are impressive statistics.
They're also ones the Jaguars have earned.
"This is a resilient group," Pederson said.
Pederson spoke to the media Monday, a day after a 20-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. It was the Jaguars' fifth victory in as many games, a winning streak that has them in firm control of the AFC South.
The Jaguars (6-2) lead the division by two and a half games over the Houston Texans (3-4) and Tennessee Titans (3-4), with the Indianapolis Colts (3-5) three games behind a Jaguars team that went 5-0 in October for the first time in franchise history.
"Quite honestly, yes," Pederson said Monday when asked if he expected to be in this situation as the midpoint of the season approaches. "It's just confidence in our guys, confidence in the team. How things started out, it was a little rough, but to be here at 6-2, I expected that, the guys expected that.
"That's the confidence the guys have in their ability."
The Jaguars' five-game winning streak came in five different stadiums: 23-7 over the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium in London, 25-20 over the Buffalo Bills at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, 37-20 over the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, 31-24 over the New Orleans Saints at Caesers Superdome in New Orleans and Sunday's victory in Pittsburgh.
"We just stick to our process," Pederson said. "Each week is different. Each game is different. It's a credit to the players, how they work during the week. It's that resiliency you talk about that, that no matter what happens during the game, you're going to find a way to win."
The Jaguars, after entering October 1-2, did not trail in the second half while winning all five games that month. They went 0-5 in October in 2022, slipping to 2-6 before winning seven of their final nine games to win their first AFC South title in five seasons.
The Jaguars rallied from deficits of seven or more points to win five times during their late 2022 run. The Jaguars haven't trailed in the second half during their current five-game winning streak, with their only deficit during that span 3-0 in the first half to the Colts.
"It's different than a year ago," Pederson said. "A year ago, we were playing from behind a lot. It feels like more we're playing with a lead [this season] and the defense is keeping that lead or keeping the offense in the game, then the offense somewhere is going to break out and score a touchdown.
"It's a little bit of a different mindset that way."
The victory over Pittsburgh also marked the Jaguars' seventh regular-season road victory, which ties the franchise record. The Jaguars' last road loss came in Week 13 last season to the Detroit Lions.
"We talk a lot about that," Pederson said. "Obviously, you have to win your division. You have to win your home games, which we haven't done a great job of yet this year, but you have to win on the road – hostile environment, crowd's against you, it's loud, noisy … you have to have poise. We've been able to do that. Again, credit to the guys for handling that."
- Pederson on the importance of this week's bye week: "It's huge from the standpoint of, 'We don't want any distractions.' We don't want anything to set us back right now. I want them to get away. I want them to rest. I want them to heal, but at the same time, I want them to think about the next game, the next nine games. How do we continue kind of what we started? We have a long season ahead of us still. I just don't want what we've worked for and what they've worked hard to establish to go by the wayside. They understand what they've done, where they are and how much work they've put in. You trust them to do the right thing. They'll come back in a good frame of mind. They've put themselves in this position, so it's something that we can continue to build on."