Updated: Jan 3
Duuuuvaaallll! Can you believe the Jacksonville Jaguars are 8-8, playing in a primetime game on Saturday against the Tennessee Titans for an opportunity to win the AFC South? The last time Jacksonville won the AFC South was in 2017, when they went 10-6 with Blake Bortles and Co. only to lose in the AFC Championship game (Myles Jack was not down).
But I digress…
We’ve only won the Division three times: 2017 and back-to-back 1998,1999 when we were in the AFC Central with the Bengals, Ravens, Titans, Steelers and Browns. So yeah, this is a VERY big deal for us Jags fans. Even myself, who’s been a fan since ‘98, I was 6 years old and I think at that point it’s fair to say I was old enough to start remembering things. It’s been a tough road.
I love sports betting and while browsing the Futures odds last week I was shocked to see our head coach, Doug Pederson, not listed as the favorite for Coach of the Year. BetMGM had the following odds on 12/27/22:
Nick Siriani -255
Dan Campbell +250
Kyle Shanahan +2000
Brian Daboll +2500
Kevin O’Connell +2800
Doug Pederson +2800
*Places bet on Doug Pederson.
How? Are people forgetting how insanely awful our team, staff and overall organization was last season with Urban Meyer? It was an absolute clown show and I was ready to finally give in to my Colorado family and become a Broncos fan. We had the number 1 pick in the Draft and finished 3-14, Trevor Lawrence looked awful and half the fan base was pleading for Gardner Minshew (myself included). Urban Meyer clearly didn’t know how to call plays or properly utilize our running back at the time, James Robinson. Don’t forget Urban Meyer kicking the kicker.
Our Offense was ranked 28th on 3rd down % and Red Zone %. The Jaguars were 32nd in Points Scored and 5th in Points Allowed and we had the 29th ranked defense. The Jaguars were an undisciplined team in 2021/2022 ranking 16th in penalties with 104 and 3rd in false starts with 26. Speaking of undisciplined, we were also dead last in turnover margin with -20…so yeah, the Jaguars were horrific.
In comes Doug Pederson, Super Bowl Champ and loved coach by everyone in Philly and still is to this day and always will be. I know as a Jaguars fan, making my argument with wins and overall improvement of the locker room atmosphere isn’t enough to give him the Coach of the Year Award. I need data to back it up to: a) prove I’m not just fanboying and b) we’re Jacksonville, the media doesn’t care about us yet.
So let’s make them care.
Here’s a table comparing 2021-2022 in some key stat lines.
That’s an incredible improvement year to year and one I didn’t even see coming. No way in hell would I have bet the Jags would be 8-8 with a chance to win the Division this year. I said 6 or 7 wins would be a solid improvement and Rome wasn’t built in a day; these things take time. But not for Doug and Trevor Lawrence. I’ll get to Trevor Lawrence in the next article.
The coach of the year award isn’t a team-centric award however, it’s league wide. Which means it isn’t enough to compare the Jaguars franchise internally year over year, but we need to compare Doug Pederson to the other coaches in front of him according to the Sportsbooks.
Nick Siriani was the guy I was most worried about when beginning this journey down the rabbit hole of stats and for good reason. His year to year improvement is remarkable and the Eagles are an extremely talented team who I think might have an extra win if Hurts wasn’t hurt. But when you look at the increase of wins, the increase in rankings for Points Scored, Points Against and Turnover Margin; Doug Pederson has the highest differential in every category. He’s completely flipped the script in Jacksonville and has the Jaguars primed for a home playoff game in the first round. In a single season, Jacksonville has gone from the laughing stock of the league to a potential Division Champ on a 4 game win streak.
And it’s not just the team but it’s individual stars who are seeing an improvement.
Christian Kirk just hit 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career, he now sits at 1,009 yards with one more game to play. He also has a career high of 7 receiving touchdowns and a career high 78 receptions. A guy that Doug Pederson and staff brought in. Rayshawn Jenkins from 0 INTs to 3. Another pickup Doug made was Falcons LB, Foyesade Oluokon who once again is leading the league in tackles.
We can’t compare Travis Etienne to last year since he was hurt but we see he’s explosive and ranks 8th in the league for rush yards with 1,108. Etienne is ranked 4th among RB’s in yards per carry. How about Trevor Lawrence? From 17 interceptions down to 8 and 12 touchdowns up to 24. A QBR of 33.5 to 55.1 and he’s not even an option for Comeback Player of the Year?
So here’s the deal. Doug Pederson is a very strong candidate for Coach of the Year and taking everything into account about the team from last year to this year should be enough to prove that. If anything, Jacksonville and the Lions are the comeback teams of the year but I argue us over them because it was expected of the Lions and Dan Campbell. The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t have any expectations in the national spotlight. Not only did we grab talent from around the league to improve our team but we also have improved the talent on our own team.
If Jacksonville wins on Saturday against the Titans, whether we win that first home playoff game or not; I think any coach who takes a 1st overall pick dumpster fire of a team to the playoffs in the first season deserves a legitimate shot at Coach of The Year.