The Jacksonville Jaguars entered this offseason with a mission to make aggressive moves on and off the field the reverse their fortunes and NFL-worst 4-29 record over the last two years.
A major head coach hire, a boatload of cash spent on expensive free agents and two first-round picks later, and it is hard to say the Jaguars did anything but accomplish their goal of making aggressive moves.
"That was one of the things, really one of the first things with [Head Coach] Doug [Pederson] and [General Manager] Trent [Baalke] that let’s be honest with ourselves. Our record has not been good drafting especially in the early rounds and how do we get better," Jaguars owner Shad Khan said following the first round of this year's NFL Draft.
"And really the answer is basically two words: collaboration and transparency. So, this has been a very intensive process with really the coaches with the scouts viewing film together, a very grueling process where there’s integrity in the evaluation. There isn’t ‘I have a bias’, and just skipping the data to convince myself or other people which led to really how the draft board shook out.
"Then I obviously sat down with Trent and Doug and some of the coaches and went over that really to kind of validate that this is something. Obviously, time will tell, but definitely you can’t be doing the same thing over again expecting different results. We are doing something very different, and it started from day one. I can tell you, I feel fabulous, and I think we’ve had a really great last couple of days I think as an organization.”
But of all the moves the Jaguars made this March and April, which move was the best one?
To 'The Athletic', who recently answered the question of the best offseason move for each of the NFL's 32 teams, the answer comes down to Pederson above all others.
"For all the Jaguars’ free-agent spending, the answer has to be new coach Doug Pederson, who should bring much-needed stability to the franchise after a difficult one-year run with Urban Meyer," The Athletic wrote.
"You have a Super Bowl-winning coach and an offensive mind to help develop quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is much better armed for his second season with upgraded personnel and protection from his offensive line. If the Jaguars can get to even seven wins, it’ll be just the second time they’ve done that since 2010, and contending for a wild card won’t be far behind."
Through Pederson's first four months on the job, have we seen enough to determine that adding the former Eagles head coach has been a more impactful move than signing Christian Kirk, Brandon Scherff, Evan Engram, or Foyesade Oluokun?
Considering the Jaguars spent heavily this March, it is fair to not look at any of their deals as true value deals outside of potentially Engram's one-year deal. Adding Arden Key on a one-year deal deserves consideration as well.
Then there is the question of whether hiring Pederson has been a better move than drafting Travon Walker at No. 1 or moving up to No. 27 overall to select Devin Lloyd. Walker and Lloyd are each versatile and athletic talents who can help improve a Jaguars' defense that has lacked play-making ability the last two years.
But adding Pederson is a move that goes beyond the offense and defense. The Jaguars' lost several games last year based on coaching alone, which doesn't even factor in the number of times that Urban Meyer's disastrous tenure put the Jaguars behind the eight-ball before a game even began.
"I think that’s the biggest thing in a team is just trusting each other, trusting the guys in the locker room but also the staff. That’s something, clearly, we didn’t have a lot of last year, so I mean I think our locker room did a great job last year of staying together," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said this offseason.
"But it’s cool to see him [Head Coach Doug Pederson] make that a priority and he knows and understands that that is definitely something that we have to make sure that we have in this building. I do think we’re building that, and I mean from everything I’ve seen, everyone’s trusting one another, really just going to work, and preparing ourselves.”
That is the area where Pederson will have to make an impact immediately. If he can -- and all signs so far indicate he already has -- then having a competent and forward-thinking head coach at the helm would be far and away the best move the Jaguars made not just this offseason, but in the past several years.