JACKSONVILLE – Focus is not a concern for Doug Pederson.
The Jaguars’ circumstances and long NFL schedule make that true for the team’s head coach — even after some disappointing losses, and even in the wake of a five-game losing streak.
“Nine games left,” Pederson said Friday morning as the Jaguars (2-6) prepared to play the Las Vegas Raiders (2-5) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville on Sunday at 1 p.m. “There is a lot of football. Anything is possible here in the second half of the season.
“We’re almost halfway there and obviously not where we thought we’d be. We probably could have been a little different here and there. But look: These guys are still training hard. They’re playing hard.”
The Jaguars, after back-to-back one-sided wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2-3, have lost five straight games by a score or less to unbeaten Philadelphia, Houston, Indianapolis, the New York Giants and this past Sunday to Denver
The Jaguars have led in every game this season, and the defense has allowed a touchdown in the final six minutes in each of the last four games.
“We just need the ball to bounce our way and get that first one,” Pederson said. “There’s a lot of opportunities. They’re still focused on this week and this season and trying to turn things around.”
Pederson on Friday called getting players to not play beyond their roles — and therefore be susceptible to mistakes — to end the losing streak “a challenge.”
“You don’t want guys to press,” Pederson said. “You still want guys to let the game come to them and make plays that come to them. It’s part of my job to continue to communicate that it’s about handling opportunities that come up in games. It’s about making plays that come to they
“Don’t go looking for things. There are a lot of plays in football and it’s about understanding that when they come to you, it’s your job to make them.”
Pederson on Friday also discussed the challenge of facing a Raiders offense with Davante Adams (38 receptions (512 yards, five touchdowns) at wide receiver, Darren Waller (16 receptions, 175 yards, one touchdown) at tight end and Josh Jacobs (676 yards). , six touchdowns, 121 carries) at running back.
“All three of them are great players with a lot of production in the league, and then throw in [quarterback] Derek Carr,” Pederson said. “They can emphasize the defense because you have to think about resources on defense … where are you going to put them?
“It’s a challenge defensively and it’s something I know our kids are ready for.”