PHILADELPHIA - Doug Pederson understands his return to Philadelphia and Lincoln Financial Field is the story when his Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) make the trip north to face a 3-0 Eagles team that has looked like the NFL's best over a short sample size in the 2022 season.
Jags right tackle Jawaan Taylor has his eyes on the Eagles' pass rush, which produced nine sacks against Washington on Sunday.
“Not yet," Taylor said when asked if Pederson has brought up his return to Philadelphia, "but we heard that they had nine sacks this past game, so we’ve definitely got a big task ahead.”
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot, meanwhile, is focused on dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts, who's performed at an MVP-like level early this season.
"He can get out of the pocket," Smoot said of Hurts. "We’ll really have to focus on our rushing lanes and be rushing as one unit this week.”
Pederson, meanwhile, isn't sure what to expect when he hits the turf at Lincoln Financial Field so he's focusing on the football side of things.
When asked by SI's Eagles Today during a video call with Philly media on Wednesday about whether he might lean on quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy, who was once Nick Sirianni's boss with the Chargers, or passing game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who helped Sirianni with special projects with the Eagles last season, Pederson said "a little bit" but then quickly defaulted to business as usual.
"We can kind of get into the thought process of coaches and players that we worked with, or coached," Pederson said. "It sort of gives you a little bit of the insight to the players. Who you’re going to see, who you’re going to face. Maybe how things work inside the building and whatnot.
"At the end of the day, we have to get ready to play, the Eagles have to get ready to play. We’re focused on getting our players the best possible game plan, just like the Eagles are, and after maybe Monday or Tuesday, everything is focused on the game plan and preparing that way."
Pederson, as he did in Philadelphia when he returned as the head coach in 2016, is focused on building a culture in Jacksonville and changing the attitude of what has been a losing organization.
"I mean, it was big this year. We know that the NFL is so close, each game can be close, and it’s just the little things," Smoot said of Pederson's mindset. "We really focus on the little things this year, and that’s what he really preached this whole offseason and into the season. It’s just the little things and focusing on doing those things right.”
It's taken Pederson just three games to make the Jags no longer feel like the NFL's version of homecoming week for their opponents.
"We’re really focusing on each key and we’re focusing on the little, small things that we see," said Smoot. "It can be like a heel lift on the center where we’re focusing on that this week. We’re just focusing on the little things and perfecting those things.”
Despite the attempts to normalize the week, the Jags are aware of what returning to Philadelphia means to Pederson.
“Oh yeah, we know it’s a special game for him and a bunch of other coaches as well, too," Taylor said. "A lot of them were in Philly, too. It’s definitely going to be a war and we’re ready for it.”
Ready to win for Pederson?
“Oh yeah. That’s the goal,” said Taylor.
John McMullen covers the NFL and the Eagles for SI's Eagles Today and JAKIB Media. He’s also the co-host of “Birds 365,” a daily streaming show covering the Eagles and the NFL, and the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow John on Twitter: @JFMcMullen.
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