American Football

Jaguars Monday presser: “There were some good moments there”


Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Doug Pederson speaks to the media following the Jaguars’ win over the Titans

Back on track.

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Monday following the team’s emphatic 34-14 win over the Tennessee Titans the day before. Considering the debacle of the week before against the San Francisco 49ers, it was a welcome, dominating performance – and it started up front. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence had his best game of the season, in large part due to his protection. Pederson believed it was one of the unit’s best showings this year:

“Yes. Like we’ve mentioned last week, Walker [Little] getting more reps and settling into that role. Obviously, these were bigger body d-tackles, the week before with Javon Hargrave, that’s a lower to the ground body and he got under Walker a little bit, where Walker matched up well this week. He did some great things and improved. Anton [Harrison] was good, Cam [Robinson] was good. Other than Jeffery Simmons making a few plays, which he’s going to do, he’s a great player, I thought the offensive line played really well.”

Pederson said he “didn’t really need to” challenge the o-line to get back to levels expected – a sign that they hold themselves to a higher standard just as much as the coaching staff does. Doug was happy to give new addition Ezra Cleveland some praise after the offensive lineman earned his first game time since his move from the Minnesota Vikings:

“Ezra did well. First time out, you can see his athleticism and his ability to run and get out in space, things of that nature. We just continue to work him in, get him in wherever we can. It’s hard to say that it’ll be every week, but right now, going into this past game, the plan was to get him some snaps. We’ll see as we go each week.”

The offensive line has been a concern of Pederson and his staff, not particularly because of performance, but because Trevor Lawrence has struggled to overcome a knee injury and has endured his fair share of big hits – legal or otherwise. There was good news on that front, with Lawrence showing no restrictions in his lower extremities as he added two touchdowns on the ground to an impressive performance through the air on Sunday. Pederson considers his quarterback through any lingering ailments:

“It was pretty much gone. He’s in a good place with that and it just depends on the type of defense we’re playing if we can utilize some of that movement stuff. How are the ends playing, how are the backers playing, things of that nature. We’re going to continue to find ways to get Trevor on the edge, he does a nice job of seeing the field there and/or running. We had some plays yesterday that were very positive for our offensive by moving Trevor. We’ll continue to explore that.”

Performance review

Throughout the press conference, Doug Pederson was asked about the performances of a number of key personnel. The media were keen to hear his thoughts on Zay Jones, who finally returned to the field after injury – not to mention his recent arrest on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge. Pederson chose to focus on his health when discussing his outing on Sunday:

“He played okay. It was good to see him get out there, it was good to see him get that early catch. I think he had four targets, four catches yesterday, kind of getting him back in the mix. I think it just helps the whole overall offense. We don’t have to switch and change as many personnel groupings as much as possible. He was tough in the run game. I think he was another one, much like Walker [Little] a week ago, he’s just knocking off that rust and just getting back out there in game speed. He’ll continue to get stronger and better and more confident each week. From an offensive perspective, it was really good to see him back.”

Talking of confidence; Foye Oluokun had a DAY on Sunday, with six tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Pederson was happy to give some reasoning for the impressive growth of the linebacker in his second season in Duval County:

“I think he’s really calmed his mind if that makes sense. Things aren’t as fast, the game isn’t as fast. He’s been able to slow some things down. He had a good game yesterday again, and he just continues to improve each week. [Inside Linebackers Coach] Tony Gilbert has done a good job coaching him and having him prepared and ready to go. He plays with really good leverage, plays with good physicality, he runs well. It’s just been a steady improvement all year with him.”

Oluokun wasn’t the only Jaguar to recover a fumble on Sunday. Ross Matiscik also flipped the field after the ball was on the ground following a punt. Pederson was excited to see his long snapper get some headlines:

“It’s great when you see him down the field making those kinds of plays. Getting a hand on the ball and recovering the ball. I thought when you watch it, our special teams unit really played well. We didn’t get a lot of punt returns, but I think our kick cover unit was really good. Dewey [Andrew Wingard] played well. Ross played well. There were some good moments there. Those are exciting because Ross is not a big guy, he got beat up a little bit even on our field goal protection. He’s tough and he hung in there, it was good to see him get that play.”

Looking to next week

After getting back in the win column on Sunday, Jacksonville turns it’s attention to Week 12 and a return matchup against the Houston Texans – a team flying high with exciting rookie quarterback CJ Stroud at the helm. Count Doug Pederson as an admirer of the former Ohio State QB:

“I’m very impressed. For a rookie quarterback to come in and perform at this level, the way he’s thrown the ball, I just really admire his poise quite frankly. He’s putting the ball where he wants to put it, meaning it is very accurate throws. He’s got the ability to escape and move and still keep his eyes down the field. I think that’s a unique trait for a young quarterback to be able to do. They’re shooting the ball down the field, they’re making plays down the field. What you see is it’s gaining confidence each week, in him, in his team. That’s a reflection of [Texans Head Coach] Coach Ryan, DeMeco. I’ve just been really impressed with him.”

Despite the recent impressive performances from Stroud, Pederson did acknowledge that being a division opponent gave the Jaguars a little advantage over the Texans’ other recent opponents:

“Well, not only twice, but we’ve got all that film on him. Yet, it still seems like he’s putting up really good numbers and they’re scoring on offense, defensively they’re better. You just see the improvement each week with this group. We understand what happened here not too long ago, and C.J. performed well in that game. That and the ability to run the football, which they’ve been able to do. They’re playing good right now.”

After throwing three picks against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Pederson was asked if Stroud was something of a risk taker. The Jaguars head coach credited the rookie quarterback with being willing to make the tough throws:

“No, I think it’s all just confidence. Look, this is the NFL. Guys are good. I admire the quarterback position obviously, and really good quarterbacks and the great ones that have played in this league. If you’re not willing to take risks from time to time, you’re not going to be one of the great ones. He continues to shoot the ball. Our guy does the same thing. The guys around him are making plays for him.”

The Texans shocked the Jaguars at EverBank Stadium back in Week 3, a result that stung then, but doesn’t seem such a bad loss now with how Houston and Stroud have performed since. Pederson thinks that the two teams’ quarterbacks can be the faces of an exciting rivalry for years to come:

“You hope so. That’s what makes the NFL so special, when you have great quarterbacks. Especially in the same division, we hope this is one of those in the beginning and in the makings. You just go every year, it’s back-to-back, toe to toe. The better quarterback that day is going to win. You’re hoping that’s the case.”

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