Let’s cut to the nut graph: Doug Pederson should be the next coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It makes complete sense, and I’ll shortly tell you why. Problem is, I’m not sure who needs to hear it more: the Jaguars, or Pederson.
Over here, we have a guy whose last head coaching stint ended with epic amounts of cringe. If Pederson and Carson Wentz were a couple, they would have spent their last year together sleeping in separate beds. Sure Pederson won a Super Bowl, but did he really? Maybe it was really Nick Foles who won it. Or Frank Reich. Or whatever demented deity decided to mess with us during that Joe Flacco year.
Granted, a Super Bowl isn’t something that every Tom, Dick, and Harry wins. But every now and then, one of them does. Mike McCarthy won one. So did Gary Kubiak. And Brian Billick. Pederson may have gone 13-3 in his second season as Eagles head coach, but he went 29-34-1 in the other three.
Over there? Well, see, that’s the thing. Pederson might not be People’s Sexiest Coach Alive, but the Jaguars aren’t exactly at the top right of a McKinsey quadrant. Over there? Over there is an organization that has an all-time record of 179-250. There’s an organization that not only drafted Blake Bortles at No. 3 overall, but let him stick around for five years. It’s an organization that went and got itself deported to London. Think about that. The Jaguars are so bad, the NFL thought they’d appeal to soccer fans.
At least, that’s what the NFL told the Jaguars. What they didn’t tell them is that the only people watching football at 9 a.m. are the true degenerates. These people would watch 22 salamanders play against each other if you dressed them up and called it football. The only surprising thing about the way the Urban Meyer era ended is that it ended at all. The last guy went 23-43 and got four years. Jacksonville is one of the few things us normal folks have in common with the stars: Nobody has any reason to go there.
Except, Pederson does. In fact, he has a big one. Thanks to the magical world of NFL socialism — a world constructed by a bunch of Ayn Rand-inhaling billionaires, mind you — the Jaguars are in possession of one of the league’s most valuable assets. His name is Trevor Lawrence, and despite what his rookie statistics might tell you, he has a chance to be the next great NFL quarterback.
He isn’t Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. But, at 22 years old, Lawrence has a chance to be the best of the group that falls just short of that. Granted, the numbers tell a different story. Only 16 quarterbacks in NFL history have posted a passer rating below 75 in their rookie season. Lawrence is one of them, at 68.9. His illustrious company includes Rick Mirer, Geno Smith, Blaine Gabbert, David Carr, and Joey Harrington. And also Bortles.
But it also includes Manning, who history often forgets went 3-13 in his rookie season. Again, Lawrence isn’t Manning. Or Luck. But he can absolutely be Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. He can be 2017 Carson Wentz.
There it is. Right there. The reason this marriage makes perfect sense. Pederson might not be an offensive genius on the level of Sean Payton, Sean McVay, or Andy Reid. He might not belong among the great program builders: Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, or Sean McDermott. At the very least, though, Pederson has shown himself to be more than competent in all of the facets that matter. He can coach assignment football. He can pull together a game plan. He can adapt to his personnel. He can see the things that a player does well and translate them to an NFL field.
Most important? Pederson can build a staff. This might be the most underrated quality of an NFL coach: finding subordinates who can communicate with players and disseminate a game plan. Pederson’s assistants took a lot of heat while they were here, but look at where they are now. Frank Reich is doing what Frank Reich does. Mike Groh and Press Taylor are on his staff. The Eagles were a professional football team during Pederson’s tenure, a far cry from the Jaguars of this year.
That, more than anything, is what the Jaguars need. And Pederson needs a quarterback. In Lawrence, he’d have a passer who can do all of the things that Wentz could do when he was at his physical peak. He’d have a passer who can do them at a higher level. Lawrence is strong. He’s smart. He has a natural feel for the pocket and the game. He can scramble. He can tuck and run. He can throw at all of the angles.
The message to Pederson: Forget about the ownership. Forget about the history, the stadium, the fan base, the teal. All of the Halases in the world aren’t going to help you win with Justin Fields. If this were college football, we’d be bombarded with reports about Sean Payton and Matt Rhule contemplating a move to the Jaguars. You’re Doug Pederson. Don’t think too hard about it.
As for the Jaguars: You’re the Jaguars. It’s time to play George Costanza. Do the opposite of what you’d usually do. Ignore the noise and find the guy who makes the most sense.
Sometimes, the safe pick is the right pick. For both the Jaguars and Pederson, this is it.