In 2021, the Jaguars made one of the worst hires in recent NFL history, naming Urban Meyer the team’s head coach. In 2022, the Jaguars made one of the best.
A Super Bowl-winning coach was available, in Doug Pederson. He was a coach who won a championship under unique circumstances. His starting quarterback was lost for the season in December, turning the NFC’s No. 1 seed into an underdog to win it all. But win it all they did, riding Nick Foles to a highly unlikely Super Bowl win over Tom Brady and the Patriots.
But only the Jaguars hired Pederson. Others interviewed him. There was never a land rush for his services, however. No Sean Payton-style clamoring. Several teams with openings didn’t even talk to Pederson, including the Texans, Broncos, Raiders, Giants, and Dolphins.
The Broncos, at a minimum, may be wondering what might have been.
After a fast start followed by a sluggish run in the middle of the season, the Jaguars under Pederson found their groove. Coinciding with a collapse by the Titans, Pederson and the Jaguars pushed their way to the front of the AFC South line. Last weekend, they scored one of the most memorable comebacks in league history to land in the divisional round.
The ride quite possibly ends this week, at Arrowhead Stadium. Unless it doesn’t. Last year, both No. 1 seeds lost in the divisional round. It’s not as rare as you’d assume. The lower seed throws a lucky punch early, catches the favorite flat-footed, and all of a sudden we have a real fight.
Pederson knows what he’s doing. He learned it from Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Now, with the season on the line and an AFC championship berth in the balance, Pederson has a chance to turn the tables on Big Red, and to complete a turnaround even more stunning than Jacksonville’s post-2017 disintegration.