NFL playoffs: Right coach can turn around a franchise quickly

NFL playoffs: Right coach can turn around a franchise quickly

The Jaguars and Giants combined for seven wins last season.

Now they are two wins away from playing in the Super Bowl.

Both teams hired new coaches who quickly achieved success.

Doug Pederson took Jacksonville 3-14 and was No. 1 in a row for the AFC South title.

Brian Daboll led New York by a 4-13 mark in the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2016.

Pederson already had an impressive resume before the Jaguars hired him to rebuild the culture after a disastrous season under Urban Meyer. Pederson won a Super Bowl in his sophomore season in Philadelphia just five years ago. But making the Jaguars a winner might be an even more impressive feat.

Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson walks the turf before an NFL football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers last Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida. John Raoux/Associated Press

The Jags (10-8) had finished last in five of the previous six seasons. They have only had one winning season in the previous 14.

Things started well for Pederson as the Jaguars opened 2-1. But they lost five straight and went 4-8 before winning their final five regular season games to secure the division title. Jacksonville trailed the Los Angeles Chargers 27-0 in last Saturday’s wildcard game and rallied for a 31-30 victory behind four touchdown passes from Trevor Lawrence after four interceptions.

“Right now our team is, we’re a tough football team, we’re a physical football team,” Pederson said this week. “Those are some of the things we are proud of. We are not perfect, we always make mistakes. It was obvious on Saturday night. The only thing our team is going to do is they are going to fight. They will continue to fight, scratch and claw.

Daboll, who was Buffalo’s offensive coordinator from 2018-21, won five Super Bowl rings as an assistant under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. But Daboll hadn’t been head coach before the Giants called him in to restore victory to a legendary franchise.

The Giants (10-7-1) have won six or fewer games in each of the previous five seasons, finishing last three times.

They got off to a 6-1 start under Daboll, earned a wildcard berth and beat Minnesota 13 road wins last weekend to advance to the divisional round for the first time since winning the Super Bowl after the 2011 season.

“I just think we really believe in our process and being consistent – whether it’s a preseason game, a game you have to win to get into the playoffs, a divisional game,” Daboll said ahead of the playoffs. “I think throughout the season you go through a lot of different things. … You go through failures. You go through some successes. You go through tough matches on the road when everyone is against you. You go through great games, whether it’s a game night on a Sunday night against a division opponent or a Thanksgiving (game). You have been through these experiences, and each week you are learning.

“You might not learn for that necessary next game, but I think those collective experiences, you build on those. But in terms of our preparation for our players, for our coaches, it will be – a boring word – but it will be consistent. We believe in what we do. We believe in how we do it, and then we have to go out there and execute and call a good game and make good decisions. Again, what wins in Week 1 wins in the playoffs. And it is the truth.

The Jaguars have a tough job Saturday afternoon against the No. 1-seeded Kansas City Chiefs. Pederson faces his mentor, Andy Reid. The Chiefs (14-3) are looking for a fifth consecutive trip to the AFC Championship Game.

The Giants also face a No. 1 seed. They will visit the Eagles (14-3) on Saturday night. Philadelphia swept the regular season series.

Pederson and Daboll weren’t the only new coaches to make the playoffs. Mike McDaniel (Dolphins), Kevin O’Connell (Vikings) and Todd Bowles (Buccaneers) have also done it.

That should be encouraging for the five teams looking for new coaches this offseason. The right leader could speed up the rebuilding process.

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