Can QB Trevor Lawrence keep up with Ja’Marr Chase in OROY race?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1). Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1). Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

So far, Trevor Lawrence is everything the Jacksonville Jaguars expected when they selected him with the first overall pick in the 2022 draft. However, he may not be this year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, as Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is making a strong push for the award.

The Jaguars have raved about Lawrence’s growth as a passer in the last six weeks, and rightfully so. The Clemson Tiger is displaying all the traits of a top signal-caller: The arm strength to make all kinds of throws, poise in the pocket, athleticism, and his command in the huddle. It’s doubtful Jacksonville would change the Knoxville, Tennesse native for any other quarterback and it looks like they’re set at the position for years to come. Having said that, Chase is having a monster season. As Mike Tanier of Football Outsider noted, the LSU product is on be on pace for a historic season.

"Chase is on pace for 85 catches, 1,821 yards, and 14.5 touchdowns in a 17-game season. To throttle back to 16 games for the sake of historical comparison, he would be on pace for an 80-1,723-13.7 statline in a typical year from 1978 through 2020."

Tanier points out that no other receiver in league history has racked up more than 70 catches, gained 1,500-plus receiving yards, and find the end zone ten times in his first year in the NFL. In seven games, Chase has hauled in 35 receptions for 754 yards and six touchdowns. Moreover, he’s averaging a staggering 21.5 yards per catch.

Trevor Lawrence isn’t probably worried about the OROY award.

As great as it would be to see Lawrence earn the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, he and the Jaguars might have set their sights on more meaningful things. The coaching staff is probably interested in his long-term development and not in whatever accolades he may get. Similarly, the rookie passer would surely prefer to win games, not awards.

Then again, the race isn’t over. In fact, it’s just starting and could heat up at any time. Nothing is stopping Chase from breaking the receiving yards record for a rookie but Lawrence is getting better each week. The Jaguars just had their BYE and the quarterback surely took advantage of the opportunity to self-study and look for ways to better his game.

Lawrence helped the Jags get in field goal range with less than seconds left on the clock in Week 6 against the Bengals. Kicker Matthew Wright then sealed the deal but the passer put the team in a position to kick the game-winning field goal. Although he hasn’t scored more than one touchdown pass since the season opener, there’s a chance that will change soon. His decision-making is steadily improving, and the coaching staff will lean more on him in the upcoming weeks.

The Bengals got it right when they drafted Ja’Marr Chase fifth overall in this year’s selection meeting, and he’s an early favorite to become the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2021. However, Trevor Lawrence could soon make things interesting.

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