Trevor Lawrence dubbed X-Factor that can impact the AFC South race

• B/R thinks the Jaguars star quarterback could play a huge role in the AFC South race next season.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) greets Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) after the Jaguars victory Sunday. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]
Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) greets Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) after the Jaguars victory Sunday. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union] / Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY

The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to bounce back after an underwhelming 2023 season. While it won't be a walk in the part, there are many reasons to think they will. Their defense should be much better with Ryan Nielsen at the helm and the offensive line got reinforcements in the offseason. However, the Jags' biggest advantage is a healthy Trevor Lawrence. In fact, Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report goes as far as saying that Lawrence could be the deciding factor in the division race.

Maurice Moton recently drew up a list of wild cards that could affect every division race. For the AFC South, he picked Trevor Lawrence's development, noting that he took a step back in 2023 but has shown he can play at an elite level.

"The 24-year-old made a big leap between his rookie and second seasons, thanks to an upgraded coaching staff led by lead skipper Doug Pederson. In 2022, he put together a Pro Bowl year, and the Jaguars won a playoff game.

However, at the end of the 2023 season, Pederson noted the team's poor ball security, which is an alert to Lawrence who turned the ball over 21 times (14 interceptions and lost seven fumbles).

The Jaguars selected the Clemson product with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, and he may get an extension this offseason. Yet we have no idea if he will continue to regress or play up to expectations of his draft pedigree in 2024."

Moton goes on to say that depending of which version of Lawrence the Jags get, they could either be a sub .500 club or the biggest threat to the Houston Texans next season.

Lawrence got off to a relatively slow start in 2022 but he finished strong and was a big reason the Jags made the playoffs that year. He was still playing at a high level last year but his production suffered a dip.

Hardly having any time to throw certainly affected Lawrence's performance. Drops also played a role. It also didn't help that he and other key players dealt with a myriad of injuries in the second half of the season.

On the other hand, Lawrence was a bit reckless at times. His 21 turnovers were the third most in the league. While interceptions are bound to happen, losing seven fumbles isn't acceptable. In his defense, the former Clemson Tiger tried to make up for the dearth of talent around him. Sure, his agressiveness sometimes led to turnovers but he wouldn't have had to put the game on his hands if he had had a bit of help.

The Jaguars are doing their part to help Trevor Lawrence in 2024

The Jaguars had the chance to seize the AFC South for the second straight year in 2023 but ultimately came up short. After a promising 8-3 starts, they managed to win just one of their last five games, paving the way for the Houston Texans to win the division. The silver lining is that Trevor Lawrence is now healthy and Jackonsville made several moves in the offseason that should help him bounce back.

Besides hiring Ryan Nielsen as their defensive coordinator, the team's brass address most roster needs and added talent to most position groups. Their offensive line, which was a weakness last year, got upgrades in the offseason. Last year, the unit couldn't open lanes in the running game, which forced the coaching staff to abandon the run and lean on Lawrence to win games, often with less-than-ideal results.

A renewed emphasis on the running game should take some pressure off Lawrence's shoulders. With opponents having to bring more defenders into the box to stop Travis Etienne, Lawrence should find more favorable matchups. Add the fact that he's got a couple of new weapons in Brian Thomas Jr. and Gabe Davis, and he's in a position to reclaim his spot as one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL.

Granted, competition in the AFC South next season will be stiff. C.J. Stroud is coming off an outstanding rookie season. Will Levis flashed last year and Anthony Richardson showed promise before a shoulder injury sidelined him. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars should feel good about their chances with Trevor Lawernce leading the way.

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