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Jaguars Tuesday Presser: “That’s the glaring difference right now between winning and losing”

Doug Pederson speaks to the media following the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Doug Pederson met with the media on Tuesday following the Jacksonville Jaguars’ humbling 30-12 defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Having had Christmas Day to reflect on the game, the Jags Head Coach was inevitably met with a barrage of questions regarding the health of quarterback Trevor Lawrence - who once again left the game due to injury:

“Trevor is progressing, he’s a little bit sore. He’s doing better today than he did yesterday and we’ll see where he’s at again tomorrow… …I believe the technical word is a sprain, AC sprain I think is the technical word for it.”

Notoriously difficult to predict how long such an injury takes to overcome, Pederson was naturally reticent to declare Lawrence as available for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers:

“Yeah, it’s a little bit early to tell. He may do a little something tomorrow, but I would doubt that tomorrow because it’s a little bit too soon. We’ll see as the day and as the week goes on.”

To mitigate the potential for Lawrence being on the sidelines for an undetermined period of time, the Jaguars claimed Matt Barkley off the Giants’ practice squad on Tuesday. With CJ Beathard potentially seeing more game time in a season where Lawrence has suffered multiple ailments, Pederson was asked what could be contributing to his starting QB’s misfortune:

“Well no, we know this game is physical and it’s a tough, violent sport. Injuries are going to happen and especially to the quarterback position. All the other injuries that he has sustained are all hits, all contact stuff. It’s part of it. That’s his style and that’s his aggressiveness, he’s been fortunate enough to bounce back from all of them. We’ll see as he goes this week of where he’s at, but we’ve been fortunate that he’s been able to be available every week so far.”

One final note; the injury bug did not end there. Whilst there was positive news for Anton Harrison (healthy) and Cam Robinson (returning from IR), Pederson confirmed that safety Daniel Thomas was also set for a spell on the sidelines:

“Daniel Thomas broke his forearm, we’ll verify it, but he broke his forearm in the game and he’s going to miss some time. Everybody else came out okay.”

Defending the team

The defeat on Christmas Eve represented the fourth loss in a row for the Jaguars, just as the season is reaching it’s conclusion. Naturally, the media was eager to understand Pederson’s thoughts on the team’s slump in form - from a franchise eyeing the #1 seed in the AFC, to being in a dogfight just to win their division. When asked if they players were ‘tuning out’ to the coaching staff, Pederson was bullish:

“I don’t think that’s happening. I’ve had conversations with players the last couple of days and guys are still locked in and focused. They know, I might’ve said this after the game, it’s not like they’re going out there and trying to make these mistakes. We just have to be more aware of what’s happening. As coaches, we’ve got to continue to coach them up and put our players in positions to be successful on gameday. I don’t feel like they’re tuning out at all.”

If the coaching staff are putting on a brave face, then some of the players are more willing to show their frustration. Trevor Lawrence said that the team ‘looked like it didn’t even practice’ after the game on Sunday. Pederson sympathized, but disagreed:

“When he doesn’t practice, maybe he feels that way. I can see that, when your quarterback doesn’t get the reps he needs during the week and you’re trying to get the mental reps for him, he’s also working on the concussion protocol and getting cleared from that. I can see where he would say something like that, but you guys are at practice, you see the way we go and what we’ve done. The guys are working hard. We’ve got some new faces on offense that they’ve got to pay attention to if we’re doing kills and alerts and different things that the quarterback wants to get us into. They’ve got to pay attention, they’ve got to focus and lock in. We’ve got to coach them up better, we’ve got to make sure that they’re on the same page with Trevor and our quarterbacks. We can’t make those mistakes in a game, because as you know, they compound and that’s where negative plays and/or turnovers have occurred. We’ve got to do our part as a staff to make sure that these things don’t happen in the future.”

Is there a lack of cohesiveness then, amongst the players? Are they pulling in the same direction?

“You get in situations like that where you feel or you come away with a feeling that a team was playing for the same things that we were playing for and they did everything they needed to win the game, we didn’t. You lean on the leadership council and leaders of your team, lean on the coaches more and just lock in and focus during the week. Prepare for another game this Sunday.”

For Pederson, the task at hand is to inject some confidence and positivity for the remainder of the season:

“I just got to keep reminding them of our goals and keep encouraging the guys to stay focused on that. Everything’s still right in front of us, got a great opportunity this week to just go 1-0 and that’s our goal… …I think you’ve got to keep that perspective. The bottom line, too, we just got to play better. We didn’t play good on Sunday and there were too many mistakes that we have to fix as coaches and players. It’s something we’ve got to address and we’ve got to make a conscious effort to do that this week.”

Missed tackles, miscommunication

Sunday once again saw some execution issues rear their ugly head. None more so than a raft of missed tackles, which seems to have perplexed Pederson as much as it did the media on Tuesday:

“Yeah, you thought a month or so ago we were a good tackling football team. We were doing some good things, stopping the run, or at least slowing the run down. It’s a conscious effort, it’s making sure you’re doing those things in practice, you’re drilling those in. Even though you’re out of pads, you’re not doing live tackling drills in practice, but you can still work the fundamentals and the details of drills and things of that nature. Again, it’s just a mindset, playing defense is a level of physicality and having a mindset that you’re going to make that tackle. We’ve got to get back to doing that, you’ve got to get all 11 guys swarming the football and that’s also where takeaways can come, when they’re punching at the ball or swiping at the ball, are all positives when you’re gang tackling like that.”

Turnovers have plagued the Jaguars much longer than the last month, and there were four more on show against the Bucs. Two interceptions came from Trevor Lawrence, who is now up to 12 for the season. Pederson confirmed there was some communication issues between receivers and quarterback on Sunday:

“Yeah, it was. We always give Trevor [Lawrence] some outs when it comes to the passing, particularly on third down. We just missed the signal and those are the things that can’t happen. Again, it makes the play worse. To me, it falls back on coaches to make sure that our players are prepared that way and that we’ve covered them in meetings, we’ve covered them in practice so that when they get in the game, they have all eyes on the quarterback because we have to do that. We have to get ourselves into better plays and out of bad ones. A lot of the nonverbal hand-signal communication has to take place. It’s something that we’re going to continue to review, continue to have in our gameplan and we’ve got to get better.”

It was interesting that Pederson acknowledged the role of the coaches when it comes to execution. But what about play calling? Offensive Coordinator Press Taylor has come under fire from some quarters in recent weeks, but Pederson almost ignored the question when asked about whether he would consider taking over play calling duties once again:

“The one thing that I know being around this league, everybody wants to point the finger somewhere and we’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the football. It’s not about the plays, it’s not about it. We’ve got to tackle better, we’ve got to take care of the football, bottom line. We do those two things, those give us a chance to win football games. If we don’t, we’re going to be sitting here talking about this again. To me, that’s the glaring difference right now between winning and losing.”