Doug Pederson: Jaguars require 'healing' to move past Urban Meyer era

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Josh Lambo's lawsuit against Jacksonville Jaguars made clear last week that the stench of the Urban Meyer still lingers.

Doug Pederson's No. 1 job out of the gate is to clean it up. The new Jaguars head coach inherits a team coming off the most dysfunctional season of a 27-year history steeped in ineptitude and failure. The damage inflicted during a 13-game tenure by Meyer that includes allegations of physical and emotional abuse is remarkable.

With the Jaguars starting minicamp last week, Pederson addressed the task left behind by the exiled Jaguars coach.

“I do believe there has to be some kind of healing with the situation and everything that transpired last year," Pederson told reporters. "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've got to see the transparency and honesty."

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson directs players during an NFL football rookie minicamp, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson directs players during an NFL football rookie minicamp, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Fresh start for Pederson and Trevor Lawrence

The 2021 season was supposed to be one of hope and growth built upon the arrival of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Instead it was mired in toxicity with Lawrence's rookie season overshadowed by Meyer's repeated appearances in headlines for the wrong reasons. The opportunity of a new regime could end up being a net positive for Lawrence, who didn't sprint out of the gates as the generational talent he was hyped as coming out of Clemson.

Lawrence struggled in his first NFL season, completing 59.6% of his passes on 5.2 yards per attempt while throwing 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in a 3-14 campaign. His poor play was largely overshadowed by everything else happening in Jacksonville.

With the relative normalcy of an established NFL head coach in Pederson setting a new tone in Jacksonville, Lawrence and his performance on the field promises to return to the spotlight — where it will be heavily scrutinized. If turning the page is job No. 1 for Pederson, developing Lawrence will become his top priority in short order.

Pederson built his reputation as an offensive coordinator who played quarterback in the NFL. That background surely played a significant role in Jacksonville's decision to hire him and work alongside their young quarterback. Pederson knows the task.

“It’s really sort of taking what he did last year and sort of building on it,” Pederson said. “Almost like hitting the reset button just a little bit, because this is the first time we’ve had our chance to work with him and really begin to work on the details and the fundamentals — how to be a professional, his study habits and all those things that come with being an NFL quarterback."

The reset in Jacksonville is an opportunity for both Pederson and Lawrence to experience a fresh NFL start and return to the success that they've both previously experienced — Pederson as a Super Bowl winner in Philadelphia and Lawrence as a national champion at Clemson.

But first comes a culture shift. And that task lies with Pederson.

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