The Jacksonville Jaguars brought an end to their confusing and befuddling head coaching search by making a notable hire on Thursday evening. Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will succeed the tumultuous Urban Meyer, who was relieved of his duties midseason after placing himself at the center of various indiscriminate situations. Darrell Bevell was swiftly named interim head coach for the remainder of the season but failed to impress and generate momentum for himself to be awarded the job on a full-time basis. The Pederson appointment comes with both good and bad feelings. Allow us to explain. Pederson enjoyed an impressive five-year run as the head honcho of the Eagles (2016-20), a reign that catapulted the Eagles to capturing Super Bowl LII by defeating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, a historic triumph that awarded a beloved Eagles franchise their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. Pederson's tenure in Philadelphia was largely successful before he was fired following a disappointing 2020 season that saw the Eagles finish 4-11-1. Eagles fans will forever hold a special place in their hearts for Pederson, who did excellent work with Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, both of whom undeniably played the best football of their professional careers under Pederson's guidance. It's partially why this hire should be considered a home run for Trevor Lawrence's development. Pederson originally entered the league as a quarterback with the Miami Dolphins and enjoyed a healthy 13-year playing career as a veteran journeyman who successfully backed up Brett Favre in Green Bay for several seasons. Pederson transitioned into coaching in 2005, and would eventually work under the tutelage of Andy Reid in both Philadelphia and Kansas City in various offensive assistant roles before spreading his own wings as the Eagles' head coach. Pederson understands quarterback play at the highest level imaginable, and we've witnessed him receive the best performances possible out of rather pedestrian signal-callers in Wentz and Foles while winning a Super Bowl. Pederson now gets his hands on a young Lawrence, who is undoubtedly a more talented quarterback and overall athlete than what he was strapped down with in Philadelphia. It's exciting for all parties involved. Lawrence's presence is likely what drew Pederson to Jacksonville in the first place, as the opportunity to help mold and grow such a natural talent was surely viewed as tempting by a man with a quarterbacking background of his own. Pederson's hiring brings an end to the most bewildering head coaching search of the offseason. The Jaguars were the first team to open up their vacancy following Meyer's well-deserved midseason departure. Owning a leg up on the eight other franchises who eventually relieved their coach of his duties should have meant something meaningful in the honor of competition, but the Jaguars' process dragged out with a seemingly unceremonious power struggle as other vacancies filled up fast and furiously. Reports, meanwhile, continued to leak and paint an ugly picture of what felt like two separate searches. Pederson was the first-known candidate to interview for the Jacksonville opening, yet his appointment comes after the Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Minnesota Vikings signaled their hires. An odd search may be painted as a thorough one in the public eye, but the Jaguars aren’t fooling anyone. Reports emerged regarding Byron Leftwich's appointment at least 10 days before Pederson was officially unveiled. Leftwich currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is beloved by the Jaguars franchise after spending a lengthy stint as their starting quarterback. Leftwich was always viewed as the obvious hire due to his connection with the franchise and ability to develop and relate to Lawrence, but reports emerged that Leftwich was unhappy with Jacksonville's decision to retain Trent Baalke as general manager, a fact that likely drove a wedge between the two sides following Shahid Khan’s public backing of Baalke following the conclusion of the regular season. Leftwich was not alone, as Jaguars fans have consistently voiced their displeasure with Baalke, who was previously described as difficult to work with throughout his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers. Leftwich's alleged unwillingness to accept the job under Baalke's watch reopened the search, and alas, we've arrived at Pederson. While Leftwich all the while seemed likely to land the job, it would appear that Baalke ultimately won out and is set to retain his job as general manager. Pederson's willingness to accept the role under Baalke qualifies as somewhat surprising given the latter's poor league-wide reputation. Baalke is best known for inciting a previous power struggle that unfortunately sent Jim Harbaugh reeling away from an extremely successful tenure as the 49ers' head coach. Baalke then hired Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly in successive seasons, both of which were fired after horrid one-year stints on the job. Pederson experienced a somewhat similar scenario following his reported clashes with Howie Roseman and Jeffery Lurie near the end of his run in Philadelphia. Head coaches rarely receive third opportunities, so witnessing Pederson tie his second and likely last chance to Baalke is a bit surprising. The Jaguars ultimately made a shrewd hire with the development of their franchise quarterback in mind, and that's what matters most. But the process of how they arrived at this juncture shouldn't be ignored, forgotten, or overlooked.
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