3. Trevor Lawrence is poised to improve and lead the Jaguars
If any position can move the needle of overall growth for a team by improving upon itself, it’s the quarterback position. History shows us time and again that teams can consistently win in the NFL with elite quarterback play, even if they get subpar production from the other units on the roster. Look no further than last season with the over-achieving Cincinnati Bengals. Before the 2021 season, hardly any self-respecting NFL analyst or fan had the Bengals going to the AFC Championship game, let alone the Super Bowl.
With the growth of Joe Burrow from Year 1 to Year 2, he was able to effectively carry Cincy to the Super Bowl by simply improving upon his own game. Watching his tape from his rookie campaign to his sophomore year he looked like a completely different quarterback. Sure, he showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie year, just as Trevor Lawrence did this past season, but to say most people expected the meteoric rise that happened last season with Burrow would simply be folly.
With all the talent that Lawrence possessed coming into the pros and the amount of drool that accumulated over him during his college career from hopeful NFL scouts and executives hoping to get the change to snag him, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the former Clemson Tiger can make at least a similar jump from Year 1 to Year 2.
Am I saying the Jaguars will make it to the Super Bowl in 2022 based on Lawrence’s potential development and what happened with the Burrow and the 2021 Bengals? Of course not. But if anyone can emulate what Burrow did as far as the mental and physical strides he made with decision-making, down-field accuracy, and overall pocket awareness, it’s Trevor Lawrence.
2. The Jaguars have the right head coach in Doug Pederson
This time last season, fans and media alike were in a very similar position in that they were excited and curious about the new coaching regime and the effect they’d have on the league’s worst roster. It’s safe to say that no one expected Urban Meyer and company to run the Jaguars franchise even further down the hole they had dug, or even that it was possible to do so.
But Meyer certainly found many ways to not only stall the franchise’s growth but set it back even more by consistently demeaning his staff and players, stubbornly pushing a square peg into a round hole by force-feeding his college football mindsets and ideals, and simply garnering so much negative attention to himself that the horrendous play on the field actually took a backseat.
This year, however, instead of hiring an experimental head coach hoping to somehow hit a home run with a crowbar, owner Shahid Khan and general manager Trent Baalke thankfully went with a different, more proven approach. With proven Super Bowl-winning experience and a background in successfully coaching up the quarterback position, Doug Pederson has brought a calming presence to the franchise that hasn’t been felt in quite some time.
Rather than going with a young up-and-coming coach like Byron Leftwich, the franchise took the safe route by choosing experience over any potential ceiling another coach may have. Pederson has shown time and again that he can take average quarterbacks and make them look like Pro Bowl-caliber signal-callers with his play-calling and guidance.
If he was able to win a Super Bowl with the likes of Nick Foles and then even win consistently with Carsen Wentz at his disposal, who has shown to be incapable of leading a high-octane offense without Pederson’s guidance, then surely there must be some high expectations and excitement in the air in Jacksonville. With Pederson and Lawrence paired up as a tandem, the sky really is the limit as far as they can go together.