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Pederson’s Projects: Comparing the 2023 Jacksonville Jaguars to the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles

Entering his second season as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, how does Doug Pederson’s 2023 Jags squad compare to his super-bowl winning 2017 Eagles team?

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Here’s the story: Doug Pederson is entering his second season as head coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars after taking over the reins from a failed college coach in the NFL. He is coming off a successful first season during which he surpassed expectations with a previously underperforming team that now features a young and promising yet unpolished quarterback.

Sound familiar? It should - this accurately describes both Doug Pederson’s 2017 pre-season with the Philadelphia Eagles and his current situation with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though the common thread of Pederson as head coach is obvious, there are additional similarities between the two teams that may offer some optimism for the year ahead.

Let’s take a look at some of these parallels.

As you may recall, Doug Pederson took the helm of a struggling Eagles team in the 2016 offseason after the unsuccessful tenure of ex-Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly. Shortly after his hire, the Eagles drafted QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State University, a splashy project for Pederson to develop.

Entering the 2016 season, Vegas set the O/U for the Eagles as 6.5 and set the money line at +10,000 for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, the 29th highest odds of all 32 teams. They finished the season 7-9, ranking 16th in points for and 12th in points against.

Fast forward to last year. Doug Pederson again took on the tall task of patching together the pieces after the disastrous tenure of all-time-great CFB coach Urban Meyer in 2021. While QB Trevor Lawrence had one more year of experience than 2016 rookie Carson Wentz, many analysts colloquially call Lawrence’s rookie season a “wasted season” and refer to his second season as his “rookie season.”

Entering the 2022 season, Vegas set the O/U for the Jaguars as 6.5 and set the money line at +13,000 for the Jags to win the Super Bowl, the 27th highest odds in the league. They finished the season 9-8, ranking 10th in points for and 12th in points against.

As is evident here, the projections for both teams were similar going into the season, as were the relative rankings of offense and defense. If anything, the Jaguars surpassed expectations slightly more, pulling out an extra 2 wins (and 1 loss) along their unlikely path to the divisional round of the 2023 NFL Playoffs.

Looking back, the leap between the 2016 Eagles season and the 2017 Eagles season was historical, as they finished the season 13-3 and clinched their first Super Bowl title. The dominance of this 2017 Eagles team through the playoffs and into 41-33 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl LI is even more incredible considering the high-scoring offense was led by backup quarterback (and future Jags signing) Nick Foles after Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14.

Looking ahead to the 2023 Jaguars season, a Super Bowl seems like a tall task in an AFC conference stacked with elite quarterbacks. After all, the Jaguars don’t have an All-Pro studded roster like the Cincinnati Bengals or Kansas City Chiefs. However, looking back at the Eagles' roster entering the 2017 season, it wasn’t exactly oozing first-ballot Hall-of-Famers. Sure, Eagles had sent Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce to the Pro Bowl after the 2016 season, but the Jaguars sent Lawrence and Jamal Agnew last year, and Tyson Campbell was certainly deserving.

Still, a team is comprised of more than a few individuals, so let’s take a closer look.

2016 Eagles Depth Chart vs Projected 2023 Jaguars Depth Chart

2017 Eagles Starters Position Projected 2023 Jaguars Starters
2017 Eagles Starters Position Projected 2023 Jaguars Starters
Carson Wentz QB Trevor Lawrence
LeGarrette Blount RB Travis Etienne
Nelson Agholor WR Calvin Ridley
Alshon Jeffery WR Christian Kirk
Torrey Smith WR Zay Jones
Zach Ertz TE Evan Engram
Halapoulivaati Vaitai LT Anton Harrison
Stefen Wisniewski LG Ben Bartch/Cam Robinson
Jason Kelce C Luke Fortner
Brandon Brooks RG Brandon Scherff
Lane Johnson RT Walker Little
Fletcher Cox DT Foley Fatukasi
Timmy Jernigan DT Davon Hamilton
Vinny Curry DE Roy Robertson-Harris
Brandon Graham DE/LB Josh Allen
Mychal Kendricks LB Foye Oluokun
Jordan Hicks LB Devin Lloyd
Nigel Bradham LB Travon Walker
Jalen Mills CB Darious Williams
Ronald Darby CB Tyson Campbell
Rodney McLeod S Rayshawn Jenkins
Malcolm Jenkins S Andre Cisco

Looking at each position group, Trevor Lawrence appears to be on a higher trajectory than Carson Wentz was at the time, the Jaguars WR core appears to be leaps and bounds ahead of the 2016 Eagles WR room, and the prospective duo of Travis Etienne and Tank Bigsby offers a bit more explosiveness than LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi.

Zach Ertz was a talented target for Wentz, but not significantly more than Evan Engram is for Lawrence. It would be hard to beat the Eagles' dominant offensive and defensive lines during the 2017 season, but the Jaguars are not lacking in talent, and their 2023 roster looks to feature more exciting young players with high breakout potential in all three levels of the defense.

Though not listed above, the special teams combination of kicker Brandon McManus and punter Logan Cooke outperforms Jake Elliot and Donnie Jones 9 times out of 10. And of course, let’s not forget the most important figure in both teams’ success: Doug Pederson.

While it is fun to draw these comparisons and throw out the oft-repeated maxim that history tends to repeat itself, any team’s chances at the Super Bowl are realistically less than likely. Still, judging from Pederson’s demonstrated success during his previous Eagles tenure and his first season with the Jaguars, Jags fans have every reason to be excited for the 2023 season. While most analysts omit the Jaguars on their list of true contenders, don’t be so quick to write off Pederson’s squad. They may just surprise you.