Doug Pederson: Jaguars Need 'Healing' After Urban Meyer Saga Last Season

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 15, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: Doug Pederson, head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

New Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson is hoping to build trust with his players on the heels of a disastrous 2021 season for the franchise.

On Friday, Pederson told reporters the following regarding what he hopes to accomplish leading up to the 2022 campaign:

"I do believe there has to be some kind of healing with the situation and everything that transpired last year because it's just there's a lack of trust that was broken, I think. For me, it's about gaining the trust back and they have to see it through me. They have to see the transparency, the honesty. I've always said I'm going to be open with them and I want them to be open with me.

"It just comes down to communication and having an open line of communication. We've been able to have some conversations that way in team settings and I think the guys have really embraced it and are doing well."

Pederson's reference to healing stems from Urban Meyer's tumultuous tenure as Jags head coach. The former national championship-winning coach at the University of Florida and Ohio State University was fired by the Jaguars after just 13 games last season amid numerous controversies.

The Jaguars hired Meyer to plenty of fanfare last year, but it never felt like a good fit, and the on-field product reflected that with Jacksonville going 2-11 during his time at the helm.

Aside from the losses piling up, Meyer made some decisions that ultimately embarrassed the organization.

In October, Meyer stayed behind in Ohio rather than flying home with the team after a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Meyer said after the fact that he had received permission from general manager Trent Baalke to do so and that he wanted to spend some time with his family in Columbus, Ohio.

The result was a leaked video that showed a woman who was not Meyer's wife dancing close to him at a Columbus bar.

Jags owner Shad Khan gave Meyer a chance to redeem himself, but the last straw occurred in December when former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo said that Meyer kicked him in the leg during preseason.

That led directly to Meyer's ouster after less than a full season as head coach of the Jaguars.

Now, Lambo is suing the Jaguars, saying that Meyer created a hostile work environment and the organization did nothing to stop it.

In Pederson, the Jaguars hired a Super Bowl-winning head coach in hopes of turning the page on Meyer and making some progress as a young, rebuilding team.

In five seasons as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016 to 2020, Pederson went 42-37-1 with three playoff appearances and concluded the 2017 season by beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The Jaguars are likely at least a few years away from thinking about reaching those heights, but they have no shortage of talent, including quarterback Trevor Lawrence and pass-rusher Travon Walker, who were the No. 1 overall picks in the 2021 and 2022 NFL drafts, respectively.

If Pederson can merely oversee a drama-free 2022 season, it would go a long way toward helping the Jags to fully move on from Meyer.