The Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 2023 season on a disappointing note, losing to the Tennessee Titans in the finale and failing to make the playoffs. Although they got off to a promising start, they struggled in the second half of the season. One reason was that Trevor Lawrence dealt with a myriad of injuries that hindered his performance. But despite his underwhelming performance, Lawrence managed to pop up in Bleacher Report's ranking of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL.
Gary Davenport of B/R ranked the best quarterbacks under who are 25 or under and Lawrence appeared at No. 6, ahead of Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Fields. Davenport argues that the former Clemson Tiger is probably the best quarterback in Jaguars history and will get paid eventually. However, he points out that he also played a role in the team's collapse down the stretch.
"Let's make one thing abundantly clear. There may be some hand-wringing by fans and pontificating from talking heads, but Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars is going to get paid. He's probably the best quarterback the Jags have ever had.
In 2022, Lawrence led the Jaguars to an AFC South title and a wild playoff win over the Los Angeles Chargers. For a good chunk of the 2023 season, the Jags appeared to be cruising to a second straight division title. There was some MVP buzz for Lawrence and Super Bowl buzz for the Jaguars.
Then the bottom fell out.
The Jaguars' only victory over their final six games came over the hapless Carolina Panthers. They went from a mortal lock to win the division to out of the postseason altogether. And while Lawrence wasn't solely to blame, he played a part. "
The quarterbacks who ranked above Lawrence were Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Brock Purdy, C.J. Stroud, and Jalen Hurts. While the order may be debatable, Lawrence's place on the list seems fair when you take into account that most of the quarterbacks ranked above him played a role in helping their respective teams reach the playoffs.
Bruck Purdy benefits from arguably the best supporting cast in the league but he has routinely excelled at what he's asked to do. Jordan Love showed much improvement as the season progressed, and he proved how far he's come in the playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys. C.J. Stroud, on the other hand, was a better quarterback than Lawrence in 2023 and was one of the main reasons for the Houston Texans' turnaround in 2023.
After completing a career-best 66.3 percent of his passes while throwing 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in 2022, Lawrence's production took a dip last year. He only mustered 17 touchdowns and his number of picks nearly doubled. In his defense, his 2023 stat sheet would have looked much better if the Jaguars receivers hadn't dropped so many passes.
The Jacksonville Jaguars must help Trevor Lawrence if they want him to rebound
Davenport is right that turnovers were an issue for the Jaguars last year, and Lawrence most definitely has room for improvement. For one, he needs to trust Press Taylor's game calling. The Jaguars had a chance to score in the finale but instead of going with the play that was dialed, he attempted a quarterback sneak that went awry. While the play has previously worked in the past, the quarterback acknowledged that he needs to stick to the original call moving forward.
On a similar note, Lawrence has to take the safe completion. At times, it feels like he's looking for that big play instead of going for the checkdown, which has led to turnovers. Having said that, the Jaguars need to give him more help, something that they failed to do last season. The offensive line, especially the interior was an issue throughout most of the year. While the star quarterback can get rid of the ball quickly, he was pressured at one of the highest rates in the league.
The offensive line's inability to open lanes made the Jaguars abandon the run, effectively making the offense one-dimensional. This put additional pressure on Lawrence to perform. Last but not least, the playcalling was unimaginative, which helped opposing defenses pick Jacksonville apart.
The bottom line is that Trevor Lawrence is still the quarterback that led the Jacksonville Jaguars to the playoffs and a division title in 2022. He's given them stability at the most important position in football. While he's definitely got room for growth, the coaching staff and their front office also have to ensure he's in a position to succeed if they want him to bounce back next season.