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Monday presser: Pederson says turnovers ‘huge’ in helping Jaguars beat the Colts

Head coach Doug Pederson faced the media on Monday after the Jaguars’ 31-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Press conferences are always nicer on the back of a win.

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson met the media on Monday morning, hours after orchestrating a 31-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts. The atmosphere was predictably pleasant - but Pederson pulled no punches when asked about what caused some issues on offense - particularly on 3rd and 4th down:

“Our execution. We faced nothing out of the ordinary; we knew exactly where they we’re gonna be defensively. We were late off the ball with the noise a couple of times, so things like that - things we can correct, things we can fix. But those are all opportunities. When you look at the 3rd and 4th down opportunities in the game, if you’d have told me we would have averaged 3rd down and 4 for the entire game, you’d be expecting a 60-70% conversion. So that’s certainly something we can take a look at and fix.”

The Jaguars went 3/12 on third down, and 1/3 on fourth down on Sunday - a 27% conversion rate. That figure compares rather poorly to Pederson’s expectations. And yet, there were no qualms with the playcalling; Pederson expanded on his decision to hand those duties to offensive coordinator Press Taylor:

“Press and I have been talking about this for two years now. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about, and it’s not an easy decision. But like I said after the game, he and I have been together for seven years. We think alike, we know each other, and I trust him wholeheartedly - that’s why he’s my offensive coordinator. He makes good decision, is well prepared, and it gives me an opportunity to stay engaged within the game and help decision making with all three phases in the game. Dealing with officials, all things like that. It’s not easy, but this felt like the right opportunity. And you know what; he did a good job for us. 31 points and came away with the victory.”

Anyone watching the game on Sunday would acknowledge that this team can play better. But despite not quite starting the season with a bang, Pederson was happy enough with the victory - and an opportunity to improve as the season progresses:

“It’s still a work in progress. You saw it around the league I think. Week 1 is not going to decide your season at all. How many teams have we seen jump out to 4, 5, 6-0 and then falter in January? You wanna be one of the other teams, who are going up in December and January. So yeah - good to get the win, but overall we’ve got some corrections to make. We gotta get better, communication has got to get better, and we’ll be working on those this week.”

Dominant defense

Whilst there were some stutters along the way offensively, the defense maybe surpassed all expectations in Week 1. Pederson was keen to stress how pleased he was with the unit against the Colts:

“I thought the defense played well. Gosh, you know when there’s three turnovers on downs, three turnovers, huge goal line stand at the end, good tackling on the back end, and they controlled the line of scrimmage. The defense really kept our offense in the football game. And that’s the way it is sometimes early in the season, your defense can be ahead of your offense until you get into a rhythm. Josh [Allen], tremendous game for him, to come out of the gates like he did. Tyson [Campbell] with the interception, Foye [Oluokun] played extremely well - it was good for those guys to get off to a fast start.”

Special praise was reserved for pass rushers Josh Allen and Travon Walker, who recorded four sacks between them on Sunday. Pederson described them as ‘physical’ and ‘disruptive’, something that might not have been the case twelve months ago. He was also pleased with Andre Cisco and Tyson Campbell in the secondary, noting how well they’d settled into their roles in year three. Campbell was responsible for a key turnover late in the game that helped put the Colts away - and Pederson acknowledged the importance of some big plays:

“Well it’s huge right? It started with Jamal’s punt return. On the 46 yard field, short field, score. And then Tyson’s interception, short field, touchdown. So there’s a correlation there right? Any time the defense or special teams can shorten the field for you, it’s advantage offense. We gotta do more of that - I know we were +1 in the turnover differential and the offense was able to capitalize on it.”

Pederson was obviously conscious of some missed opportunities too; particularly on either side of halftime. Expect that to be a focus of attention this week:

“I look at it too, the ‘middle eight’ of the football game, the two minute drill where we settled for a punt when we were really in field goal range, so that was execution on our part. And then coming out in the third quarter, that’s another element of that too where you can really score. Those are other opportunities that we need to take advantage of.”

All eyes on week 2

Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Jaguars return home this weekend as they welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Duval County. Andy Reid’s team suffered a surprise defeat to the Detroit Lions on the opening day of the NFL season. Pederson was asked if it was an even tougher prospect facing a potentially wounded animal on Sunday:

“It’s not so much that [Chiefs coming off a defeat]. It’s a different animal right? A veteran quarterback [Mahomes] versus the rookie - and I thought Anthony Richardson played well. And this is a Super Bowl winning team. So it’s a disciplined team, obviously well coached, so the challenge is real. And we haven’t fared so well against them, two losses last year… It’s a great opportunity for our team. It’s a home game, and we’re looking forward to the challenge, our game plan ready this week, and being ready to go.”

Pederson was keen to stress the importance of a noisy Everbank Stadium as they embrace a tough test:

“I think it’s going to be everything. I know it’s an early start, going to be warm, but I really hope we can have a full crowd. Any time you start your season at home with the Super Bowl champions, it’s exciting, for us as a team and our fans. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

The Jaguars might have to face the Chiefs without one of their stalwarts on the offensive line. Pederson revealed that x-rays and an MRI showed that guard Brandon Scherff has an ankle sprain and will be ‘pretty tender the next couple of days’. He’ll be monitored, but the Jaguars head coach was comfortable with his options should Scherff not be able to suit up on Sunday:

“It’s obviously a loss for the offensive line. But his leadership with Anton [Harrison], and the communication and the rapport that they’ve had since the offseason. But if he can’t [go] then [Tyler] Shatley; he filled in pretty well, is used to this system. He’ll do the same things as far as communication goes. So all the confidence in the world that we’ll have the answers there.”

Satisfied with a win in the season opener, Pederson was in no doubt that a tougher test awaits him this weekend:

“I’m 0-3 against Coach Reid in my career. We gotta try and work on that.”