The Jacksonville Jaguars started their rookie minicamp Friday with the No. 1 overall pick, Travon Walker, and a new head coach, Doug Pederson, for the second straight year.
If Jacksonville intends to avoid picking atop the draft for a third consecutive time at the conclusion of the 2022 season, it will take more than just improvement on the field.
"I do believe there has to be some kind of healing with the situation and everything that transpired last year because it's just there's a lack of trust that was broken, I think," Pederson said in a Friday news conference. "For me, it's about gaining the trust back and they have to see it through me. They have to see the transparency, the honesty. I've always said I'm going to be open with them and I want them to be open with me.
"It just comes down to communication and having an open line of communication. We've been able to have some conversations that way in team settings and I think the guys have really embraced it and are doing well."
When the Jaguars hired Pederson in February, they didn't just net themselves a former Super Bowl winner. They brought a players' coach on board to mend the broken fences left in previous head coach Urban Meyer's wake. Pederson possesses both the résumé and the temperament to return the Jaguars' locker room to normalcy after a season that was anything but.
One game before Meyer's December dismissal, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero documented the boiling tension between Meyer, players and staff, which involved Meyer staying in Ohio instead of taking the team plane home after a Week 4 loss, having a spat with wide receiver Marvin Jones and allegedly telling assistant coaches they were losers.
For what it's worth, Pederson's approach with his team already appears to be taking root.
When asked about his relationship with Pederson as the team kicked off its offseason program back in April, quarterback Trevor Lawrence told reporters, "I think that's big when you know your coach has been there, he's been in your shoes, he's played quarterback. And then too having that success at this level as a head coach, he's won a Super Bowl, you've seen his run with the Eagles, all those things. Being able to lean on that for him to help us is huge. ... So far, it's been great to see kind of how he runs things. [He's] really laid back, expects a lot out of us obviously. I think that's important that you have those high expectations for your team, but I think he handles things the right way."
Linebacker Devin Lloyd, the Jaguars' other first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, echoed Lawrence's sentiments about Pederson getting off on the right foot.
"He's also a players' coach like we'll chop it up, like I said, we'll play around," Lloyd told reporters at Saturday's rookie minicamp. "He's somebody who's fun to be around, but at the same time, like I said, when it's work, it's work and he's about his work and he's serious. He's about everybody getting better and understanding what to do. As long as we're on the same page, I feel like he's one of those coaches where he's just worried about how can we be the best team."
With players starting to buy in and being able to focus solely on their on-field performance, the Jaguars can begin to right a ship that's been adrift for far longer than the 2021 season. Jacksonville has enjoyed only one winning season since 2008.
Pederson is certainly the right man for rebuilding trust. With any luck, he will also reintroduce the Jaguars to the success he had as head coach in Philadelphia.