JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Doug Pederson won’t have the power Urban Meyer had with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team and its fans can only hope this is a good thing.
Owner Shad Khan introduced Pederson as the Jaguars coach on Saturday and said the team asked the NFL to hire an executive vice president, someone who would report directly to Khan and oversee Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke.
It’s a very different structure to what Jaguars have used for the past couple of years. Khan’s only other EVP was two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin, who held the position for three seasons (2017-19) and was in place when Jacksonville last made the playoffs.
Khan moved to a traditional coach-GM model (Doug Marrone-Dave Caldwell) in 2020 after Coughlin was fired, then hired Meyer to run a coach-centric model in 2021, a setup that ended less than desirable. Meyer was fired in mid-December after 13 games, one of the most turbulent tenures in NFL history.
“One of the reasons we had the search was not just to look for the head coach candidate, but really to find out more about other organizations,” Khan said. “I mean, it’s a byproduct of coaching research.
“So some of the practices, some of the structures that work, we got a great look at that. So strengthening football operations, more staff, certainly, that’s part of our goal. We had a too flat organization, and we want to add intelligence and more people to reinforce that.
Khan plans to hire an executive vice president as well as an assistant general manager to work under Baalke, who has come under fire in recent months after Khan opted to keep him on instead of cleaning up. The Jags have previously interviewed former Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman, who could end up in either position. Under NFL rules, Jacksonville must also interview two external minority candidates for the position of executive vice president.
Baalke, 57, welcomed the reorganization.
“This question is being asked in 32 buildings across the league: Who has the power? Who is the final decision maker? ” he said. “Show me a building where you’re not collaborative and where you’re winning. It just doesn’t happen in the National Football League.
Jacksonville signed Pederson on Thursday, concluded five weeks after the team first interviewed the former Philadelphia Eagles coach. Pederson was one of 10 candidates interviewed in what Khan called an “exhaustive process with no preconceived notions”.
Pederson was one of two to get a second interview. Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was the other.
Pederson, 54, was widely considered one of the better options. He made the playoffs three times in five seasons in Philadelphia and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory after the 2017 season. He opted to take a year off after being fired at the end of the 2020 season. and moved to Jupiter, about a four-hour drive south on Interstate 95.
While he was away, Pederson watched the eldest of his three sons get married, reconnect with his wife, and was able to spend time with his brother before he died of cancer.
“I always knew deep in my heart that I wanted to coach and still be a head coach in this league and still be successful,” Pederson said. “It never went away. I just needed some time to get away from it all and pull myself together a bit. …
“Did I miss football? Yes I did it. That’s why I went to visit some guys at training camp last year. I just needed that dose of football and to be around her. As the season progressed and I watched the whole league, I guess those competitive football juices (come back).”
He also interviewed Chicago and New Orleans before landing in Jacksonville. One thing that stood out from that job: having Trevor Lawrence as a franchise quarterback.
“It’s unfortunate that things haven’t necessarily gone well this past year, but that’s behind us now,” Pederson said. “I’m just excited to come here, roll up my sleeves, go to work, create a system that improves your skills and succeed. I’m proud of that.
“We did that in my old position with Carson Wentz early in his career and I really feel like that’s a force that I can help and be a part of.”
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