clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jaguars Playbook: How HC Doug Pederson turned Jacksonville into a serious contender

An in-depth look at how Pederson’s offense has turned the franchise around

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This series will analyze the 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars offense. We’ll create weekly play call sheets to see how one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL, Doug Pederson, calls a game. First up: Week 1 vs Washington Commanders.

The Jacksonville Jaguars came just three victories shy of the ultimate goal last season. After the Urban Meyer experience, nobody thought that was achievable after just one season. So how did head coach Doug Pederson turn it all around?

In today's NFL, teams will only go as far as their quarterback allows. And one of the most important aspects, often overlooked, is the relationship between the offensive play caller and QB. A play caller needs to have a complete grasp of the player's skill set.

That’s where Pederson’s expertise comes into play. His history with quarterbacks is already well known -- expertly navigating the call sheet to guide Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles to victory in Super Bowl LII.

Last season, Pederson was able to help Trevor Lawrence succeed in subtle ways. By using pre-snap movement, he allowed his young signal caller to see what the defense was doing. Couple that with complementary pass concepts, and you’ve made life easier for your quarterback.

As a play caller, Pederson meshes these concepts together well to simplify Lawrence’s reads. If Lawrence is reading the strong side, the backside routes come into his vision seamlessly and allow for quicker decision-making.

To help understand the Jaguars' offense on a deeper level, we’ve put together call sheets. The blueprint is similar to the sheets you see offensive coordinators covering their mouths with on Sundays.

Our sheets have been simplified to help envision what actually happened on the field. We’ve listed each play with run or pass, direction, formation/motion, and play design. Each play should be read left to right, signifying each side of the field; separated by “||”. The routes have been laid out by the receiver closest to the sideline to the receiver closest to the QB.

The design of these sheets will allow a quick overview of what the game plan was from week to week. This series will look at each week of the 2022 season as its own entity, with some important details extrapolated for more insight.

Opening Script

Creating an opening script affords play callers less pressure. Playing out how the game will fare before it happens also gives coaches the opportunity to plan for every situation -- 3rd down, openers, red zone, etc.

Scripting the first 20 or so plays also allows coaches to gather as much information as they can early on in the contest. These notes can be recalled as necessary later on in the game as well. How does a defense match up personnel-wise? How are they rotating to pre-snap movements? What coverages are they using verse certain formations and personnel?

Pederson seemingly had each of these questions answered before the first snap against the Commanders. His opening script was expertly devised.

Utilizing under center along with shotgun formations; pre-snap movements; a solid mix of run and pass plays; play action; allowed the Jaguars to move down the field nicely on their opening drive. An overthrow in the red zone from Trevor Lawrence cost the Jags four points. But overall it was a successful first drive of the season.

The script continued with the second drive. Pederson sprinkled in some nice easy reads and throws for Lawrence to kickstart the drive. But a rare negative play (sack) ended it before it could gain more momentum.

Overall, these first 20 or so plays allowed head coach Doug Pederson an opportunity to take advantage of an aggressive defense. Ultimately, lack of execution didn’t allow the Jags to get into the end zone.

Middle 8

The middle eight of a football game consists of the last four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. Often, this timeframe plays a huge role in the outcome of a game. Win the middle eight, good chance you’ll win the game. Conversely, lose the middle eight, and you’ve now put yourself in a difficult position to win the game.

The importance of the middle eight is why most coaches will defer to the second half to receive the kickoff. An opportunity for the double score can put a team in full control.

A well-executed middle eight could also keep the opposing offense off the field anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes of real time. That’s significant.

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Jaguars required a couple of big stops from their defense. Which they got, setting up for a successful middle eight.

After forcing a Commanders turnover, Pederson dialed up a great two-minute drive. The Jags attacked both the middle of the field as well as outside the numbers to keep the defense guessing. But again, lack of execution reared its ugly head with the Jags missing a field goal.

Opening the second half, the Jaguars' defense came up big again, forcing a punt. The offense took over and had a six-play drive that led to a touchdown.

While a well-scripted middle eight for the Jaguars didn’t result in a victory, it allowed them to keep the game close. Had the execution been there a win would have been likely.

Week One Outlook

The Jaguars developed a sound game plan that took advantage of an aggressive defense. They also did a great job of limiting negative plays.

Their ground game consisted of both zone and gap runs, mostly out of one-back formations. A lot of Jet Sweep fakes were utilized as window dressing for Zones concepts. Some well-executed Counters went for big gains to round out a solid run game.

Pederson did a nice job of mixing the runs from under center and out of shotgun formations. This helps keep the offense from becoming predictable. When the run game is working soundly, play action can become extremely effective.

Utilizing play action helps keep an aggressive defense from pinning its ears back, making life a little easier for Lawrence. Many of the play actions also used max protection (7/8 players staying in to block).

The reason to use max protection is twofold. First, it makes it look more like a run play while helping to keep your quarterback clean. Second, it cuts the read down to one side of the field. This is important, especially when the QB has his back to the field for the run action fake. After the play fake, the quarterback can focus his eyes on one side of the field. With only two receivers running routes the decision process is made easier.

Jaguars receivers did a great job of getting open so Lawrence rarely had to go past his second option. Part of this was because of scheme and part was because receivers were winning their battles.

Whether it be Week 1 jitters or getting used to a new head coach, this is a game the Jaguars would like to have back. A few missed opportunities had the offense settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. In a four-point game that was all the difference.

Next up: Week 2 vs. Indianapolis Colts.