The Jags hired a familiar face in former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson to clean up the mess that was Urban Meyer’s tenure. Pederson held a press conference with the Giants’ beat writers on Thursday, the first opposing coach to talk to the New York media. Given Pederson’s familiarity with the Giants and their offensive coordinator.
He offered some interesting insights into his perspective on the Giants’ 5-1 start, what the Giants have in Mike Kafka, and what goes into coaching a very young team.
The Giants’ fast start
Doug Pederson is no stranger to the Giants. He was the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback in 1999, was an offensive assistant under Andy Reid from 2009 to 2012, and took over as the Eagles’ head coach from 2016 to 2020. Over his time as a player and coach, he has seen both good and bad Giants’ teams.
He’s also seen some terribly coached teams as well as some very well coached teams.
Pederson told the Giants’ beat writers that this Giants’ team falls in the latter category, and he isn’t surprised at all at how the Giants have started the season.
“I tell you this,” Pederson said, “it’s really not a surprise. Because you try to create takeaways, you try to create turnovers, you try to create games that end up in the fourth quarter, and you find a way to win. That’s what good teams do, and that’s what you’re seeing with this team. You know, it started back in Week 1 against Tennessee, with the [missed] kick there.”
“But,” he added, “you look at last week and you look at other other games where it’s been an opportunistic offense or an opportunistic defense. And that’s what you want, you want games that can be decided in the fourth quarter and obviously you want to be on the on the winning end of that. So being being opportunistic and making the most of their opportunities is what is what we’ve seen”
Pederson, Mike Kafka and Andy Reid
Doug Pederson’s path from player to coach should seem very familiar to Giants fans. He started out as a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles under Andy Reid. From there, he became a coach under Reid following him to the Kansas City Chiefs where he became the offensive coordinator.
Giants’ offensive coordinator Mike Kafka came into the NFL as a quarterback under Reid, and when his playing career ended he became an offensive assistant under Reid in Kansas City. Over time, Kafka worked his way up to being the Chiefs’ quarterbacks and passing game coordinator.
And as it so happens, Pederson coached Kafka when they were both in Philadelphia in 2010 and 2011.
Pederson had nothing but praise for his former player, saying, “Mike Kafka, I tell you, what a great dude. Just, I tell you what, when he was a player, this guy, was a hard hard worker. He studied this game like no other, and I’ve been around some great quarterbacks as a player and as a coach. He [Kafka] studied this game and really, you know, understood X’s and O’s of how things how things operate and how to run how to run an offense.”
“And now you see him, and obviously he came from Kansas City, he worked with Coach Reid, where I worked with Coach Reid. And you learn a lot just being under his [Andy Reid’s] tutelage and what he can teach you as a young coordinator or position coach.”
“It doesn’t surprise me that the success that the Giants are having,” Pederson said. “I would put quite a bit on Kafka for that success, and understanding the quarterback position and how it’s to be played. You see it in the play of Daniel Jones and you see it in the offense. I think the world of Mike and maybe one day he’ll be a head coach as well.”
Andy Reid is renowned as one of the best and most creative coaches in the NFL. He has not only elevated the West Coast Offense to an art form, but he’s reached into the college ranks as well as deep into the NFL’s history for inspiration. Both Pederson and Kafka learned how to design and call an offense from Reid and his philosophy.
Pederson said, “I think a lot of it is to think out of the box, don’t be don’t be restricted to whether you can or can’t do something. I think it’s an it’s a growth mentality, where you have to consider all possibilities and where you can challenge your players offensively.”
“I think that’s something that Andy has taught me and all the guys that have worked for him,” he added. “And I know Mike’s in that same boat where you think out of the box, and it just allows you to free your mind up. And not from a play calling standpoint, but sometimes from a play design or how you want to use a certain player and it just allows you be yourself, but at the same time be aggressive with the personnel that you have.”
On Travon Walker, Josh Allen, and coaching a very young team
The Jaguars have spent quite a bit of draft capital on their front seven in recent years. Now their defensive front boasts a pair of athletic EDGE defenders in 2019 7th overall pick Josh Allen and 2022 first overall pick Travon Walker.
While neither has been truly dominant, both have been big contributors to a good Jaguars defense.
Speaking about his young edge defenders, Pederson said, “Josh is a player that is has been dynamic and trying to complement him with Travon to get them both around the quarterback as much as we can.”
But While Allen hasn’t gotten the sack numbers the Jaguars might want to see form him, he has gotten to the quarterback with another 10 hits, five tackles for a loss, and a pair of forced fumbles.
Pederson added, “Josh is a tremendous leader. He works extremely hard and the one thing I don’t want him to do is get frustrated with the sack production or things of that nature. Just gotta keep working, but we really like where Josh is and how he’s how he’s been playing.
The Jaguars have a very young team, and it has been a process for Pederson to get his young pieces to gel.
“Well, that’s just it,” he said, “you got to try to get them to gel extremely fast. You know, the game goes by fast. The games themselves are fast. Again, it just goes back to what their strengths are, and putting him in position to be successful.”
“And at the same time,” he added, “you still want to be able to allow him to grow as a player and grow into their roles. And I think it’s a great problem to have. I think we’re the third or fourth youngest team in the league right now by age and you kind of understand that you may go through some growing pains from time to time, and we’ve experienced that this year already. And yet, that’s how you learn. That’s how you get better as a football team, and you don’t try to minimize those each week.”