The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles are broadly seen as Super Bowl contenders. The Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers will also pop up in the conversation often, but what about the Jacksonville Jaguars? In previous years, you would have probably gotten a blank stare if you had suggested that the Jags were a contender but not anymore. In fact, Louis Riddick thinks they're poised to make noise in 2023 and believes Trevor Lawrence is a big reason why.
In an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, Riddick talked about a conversation he had with Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson and why he believes they could explode figuratively speaking in 2023.
"We went over to London last year before they played Denver, and did their game for ESPN Plus", Riddick told host Rich Eisen. "Talked to Doug extensively about Trevor Lawrence's maturation as a quarterback and how he had to basically almost be like rehabilitated and had to really be infused with confidence after the struggle he had as a rookie. Not just on the field but with his confidence and the way he was coached and the way he was supported and not supported."
"He basically was the adult in the organization his rookie year, which is unfair for him. And how you could see as the season went on, leading up to the way he played in the postseason, how this guy was just making huge strides week after week with his maturation and how he was starting to play like that guy who they said was a can't-miss guy", Riddick said.
"Year 2 in Doug's system, what think it's going to happen to this dude now that he's got the best route runner in the NFL in Calvin Ridley, all, all these tight ends, and a young up-and-coming offensive line? It's a little green on the edges. It's got it but they'll get better and these morning backs, what you think it's going to happen with his football team. They're going to explode, Riddick said.
The Jags didn't make any splash signing in free agency but they didn't really need to after trading for wide receiver Calvin Ridley last year. Ridley is ready to play after serving a suspension for betting on football games.
On top of that, Jacksonville drafted players such as running back Tank Bigsby and tight end Brenton Strange, who could end up becoming important contributors as rookies. Here's Riddick's full conversation with Eisen.
Trevor Lawrence gives the Jaguars a chance to compete in 2023
Despite being dubbed a generational talent ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence couldn't overcome the lack of support he got from the Jaguars in his rookie season. Besides not having a subpar supporting cast, Urban Meyer had no clear plan in place to develop him.
Once Lawrence got weapons and a head coach who actually know what he was doing, he put on display the talent that earned him the can't-miss label. Coincidentally, the former Clemson Tiger turned the switch after the London game and played particularly well the rest of the way, completing more than 70 percent of his passes for 2,064 yards with 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Moreover, Trevor had a massive role in comeback wins against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Baltimore Ravens, the Dallas Cowboys, and later the Los Angeles Chargers in Super Wild Card Weekend. If can continue to improve in Year 3, the Jaguars will be able to go toe to toe with the Bengals, the Chiefs, and the 49ers, teams they're scheduled to face next season.
Trevor Lawrence is quickly becoming an NFL superstar and as long as he remains healthy, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have a chance.