Do the Jacksonville Jaguars finally have a coach who belongs in the conversation with other top coaches in the league?
They sure hope so, and they aren't the only believers.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson is one of the few active head coaches who has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, and he did so in only his second year as a head coach. As a result, Pederson didn't have to wait long to find his name on a Pro Football Network ranking of each of the NFL's 32 leaders entering the 2022 season.
PFN's lead NFL reporter Mike Kaye compiled a tiered list of each coach. Pederson finds himself coming in at No. 11 and being placed in the third tier -- the "still have something to prove" tier. Pederson was ranked one spot behind Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, who led the Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance last year.
"Doug Pederson essentially fired himself when he recommended an underwhelming staff to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie last year. Now, after a year on the sidelines, Pederson is getting a second chance to lead a team to the Super Bowl," Kaye wrote.
"Following the awful Urban Meyer era, Pederson is the right leader to mend fences in Jacksonville’s locker room. Pederson is only a year removed from a five-year tenure that saw him make the playoffs three times, win two division titles, and a Lombardi Trophy."
Some other notable coaches Pederson found himself ranked ahead of: Indianapolis Colts' Frank Reich, Arizona Cardinals' Kliff Kingsbury, Dallas Cowboys Mike McCarthy, and Cleveland Browns' Kevin Stefanski.
Considering Pederson's 42-37-1 career record and how overall successful he was with the Eagles, it isn't surprising to see him ranked high. The year he took away from football may have caused some to forget just how consistent the Eagles were under Pederson each year, but he has seen more sustained success than most of the coaches behind him and is someone who both coaches and players are drawn to.
“It’s been great. I’ve loved it here. That’s one of the reasons why I’m here. When I was looking into potentially getting another spot, coach Pederson reached out," Jaguars special teams coordinator Heath Farwell said last week.
"We had the same philosophies, same beliefs. It’s all about being positive, how can we get the most out of the players? His interaction with the players, the players love him here, the coaches love coming to work. That’s something I believe in. I believed in it as a player, that’s something I learned throughout my years of playing. That’s my philosophy as far as the way I try to coach it. We kind of really meshed together of just him and I, and we hit it off right away. We just built that relationship since I’ve been here."
Pederson went 7-9 in his first season in charge before the Eagles' offense took a major leap in 2017, finishing No. 3 in points and No. 7 in offensive DVOA during a 13-3 season. Pederson then continued to impress as he went on to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots with a backup quarterback at the helm in Nick Foles.
Pederson went 9-7 in 2018 and 2019, making the playoffs each year and winning a Wild Card game in 2018. The offense took a step back but still never fell below No. 18 in points scored, though the entire unit cratered in 2020 as the Eagles went 4-11-1 and finished No. 26 in points and No. 28 in offensive DVOA, leading to Pederson's firing.