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JACKSONVILLE — Doug Pederson didn’t bring Philly Special with him to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Perhaps the most famous trick play in Super Bowl history is not in the Jaguars’ offensive playbook. At least not yet. And it may never be there in exactly the same form we saw in Super Bowl LII.
“Not right now,” Pederson said Wednesday as his new, young, hopeful Jaguars warmed up in front of him before practice. “I’m not saying it won’t be at some point, but right now it’s not, actually.
“That’s a special play, you know, for me. We’ll have versions of it throughout the year, but that’s a play that will be remembered for a long time for being on the greatest stage. … Plus I want this to be unique for Jacksonville, too. When we run plays like that in the future, I want it to be unique to this team.”
It might not be in the playbook yet, but it already has a name.
“Duval Special,” Pederson says, a nod to the Florida county the Jaguars proudly call home.
It’s appropriate for Pederson to talk about a great Super Bowl play while preparing the upstart Jaguars for their 2022 season. He has been hired here to shift the franchise’s course away from consistent failure.
Pederson was hired to win.
He was hired to become the first man in NFL history to coach two different teams to a Super Bowl championship. Skeptics may not buy it’s probable, but Pederson believes it’s possible.
“It’s not out of the realm of possibility,” he says confidently. “Who would have thought we could have done it in ’17 in Philly with the team we had, the injuries we had, so anything’s possible.
“One of the things I do here is I don’t preach a lot about that game, I don’t talk about the Super Bowl. We’re a long way away. … It’s a sort of a shock the world mentality here but these guys just love ball. And if you’ve got a team that appreciates football and what they go through, then anything’s possible.”
Meaningful Off Year For Doug Pederson
Doug Pederson probably shouldn’t be the Jaguars coach. Owner Shad Khan approached him to interview in 2021, right after Pederson was jettisoned as the Eagles coach after a 4-11 season. Other teams offered him chances to join them as the offensive coordinator.
Pederson declined all those overtures.
He took 2021 off as the interested teams moved on to other coaches. And what happened next sounds like something of a nightmare: his younger brother Craig Pederson lost a 10-month battle with cancer in October. It was right in the middle of the NFL season.
“It was great from the standpoint of life just sort of slowed down,” Pederson says. “You know, for me, when you’re in this business it never slows down. You’re always going. You’re always doing something and being pulled somewhere. But for me during that year I appreciated the small things in life.
“Spending time with my brother, going through his situation. Had a grandchild born in February, we had a wedding in July. Life still goes on outside the NFL and football and all that. And that’s why, to me, I considered it being a great time for me and my family.”
It was a year of reflection. It was also a year in which Pederson relied heavily on his faith.
“It’s what carried me through the entire year, honestly,” he says. “I had to lean into my faith with my brother’s situation and knowing he’s in a better place and understanding it was God’s timing to take him.
“It’s interesting that, yeah, you go through the emotions of being mad and angry, pissed off, asking why is this happening to my brother? He’s two years younger than me. And you pray things like, “God, I want you to heal him. I want you to take his pain away.’
“Well, when He took him, He took his pain away. He healed him. So that gives me confidence, it gives me hope, it gives me peace. That’s what carried me. My faith was everything and it is everything to me. It’s really how I’ve approached this second lease on coaching.”
Awesome, Crappy Moments For Pederson
Before he lost his first lease in Philadelphia, Pederson had some awesome moments, and he had crappy ones too. So, five months into his new stint, have there already been awesome and crappy moments in Jacksonville?
“Well, one, being hired here is awesome,” Pederson says. “Shad Khan and his family gave me the opportunity to be a part of this organization. I really believe that this could be a great place. We’ve got work to do but this group of young players. … They’re energetic. It keeps us old guys young. And there have been kind of cool moments to see this whole thing kind of unfold before us.
“I have no idea what the season is going to bring. But I know this, our guys are going to play hard. They’re going to practice hard. And for me, too, to see as this team kind of heals is great. They need to separate from last year. And more time away, obviously that helps. And I think that’s another reason I was brought in to help that process.”
So any crappy moments?
“Besides, crappy practices?” Pederson laughs. “Listen, anytime you’re hired somewhere and it’s new, everything’s new, you’re kind of in that honeymoon phase a little bit. People are genuinely excited around here. I don’t know if they’ve been that way recently.
“We’ve got great ownership and, honestly, I want to help win for him. Shad has poured everything into this organization. He’s continued to do that. So there haven’t been too many bad moments yet.”
The Jaguars are a work in progress. But they’re a team with a coach who has won it all and has high expectations it can all eventually repeat.
“If we do it right, and we don’t screw it up,” Pederson says, “we’ve got a chance.”
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero