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The Jacksonville Jaguars have a fresh start this year under new head coach Doug Pederson.
Pederson is hoping to rebuild more than just the Jaguars roster following a dysfunctional season at the hands of Urban Meyer. The former coach was a major reason why Jacksonville drafted No. 1 overall for the second straight year.
Speaking to reporters prior to the start of rookie minicamp Friday, Pederson stressed the need for “healing” after the short-lived Meyer tenure.
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“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,” Pederson said.
Meyer went 2-11 in his partial season, and the Jaguars really started to unravel on the offensive side of the ball following the team’s bye week. They averaged a measly 9.1 points in Meyer’s final seven games, which ended with a five-game skid.
Meyer reportedly didn’t know the names of some notable opposing players, including Aaron Donald and Deebo Samuel, which he denied. A member of the Jaguars staff described last season as the “most toxic environment I’ve ever been a part of. By far. Not even close,” the Athletic reported.
Khan announced the firing of Meyer just hours after kicker Josh Lambo, who was released by the Jaguars last year, told the Tampa Bay Times that Meyer kicked him during a practice in August.
In recent weeks, Khan revealed he fired Meyer because the coach lost the respect and trust of the team.
“When you lose the respect, the trust and an issue of truthfulness, how can you work with someone like that?” Khan told USA Today Sports. “It’s not possible.”
Now, Pederson says his goal is to gain that trust back through transparency and honesty.
“For me, it’s about gaining the trust back, and they’ve got to see it through me. They got to see the transparency. The honesty,” Pederson said. “I’ve always said I’m going to be open with them and I want them to be open with me.”
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“It just comes down to communication and having an open line of communication,” the coach added. “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 has a championship pedigree having led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in February 2018. The Jaguars selected Trevor Lawrence and Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick in the last two drafts.
The players have already started to buy into what Pederson is preaching after an abusive season. At least 42 players participated Friday in rookie minicamp.
“I think about just the numbers of guys that are here in the offseason program. It just shows the character and sort of who these guys really are and football is important to them, winning is important to them,” Pederson said.
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“They’re willing to change and wanting to change and needing it to change, obviously. It’s a credit to the players, the leadership of this football team that we have this many guys in our offseason program right now,” he added.