The 2023 season didn't go the way the Jacksonville Jaguars expected. Having made the playoffs in 2022, they were projected to win the AFC South for the second year in a row. However, they came crashing down down the stretch, which paved the way for the Houston Texans to come out on top. Looking back, there were many things that held the Jags back. Trevor Lawrence certainly played a role but he's (or should be) the last of their concerns.
Just recently, Thomas Valentine of Pro Football Focus put together a list of reasons for optimism for every non-playoff team. He believes Lawrence gives Jacksonville one, noting that he's still a top-10 quarterback but needs to cut down on turnovers moving forward.
"The Jaguars should take a step back and reevaluate. After an 8-3 start to the season, they dropped five of their next six games and missed the playoffs in embarrassing fashion. That shouldn’t happen for any team, especially not one with an excellent quarterback at the helm.
That’s why there is obvious reason for optimism. Lawrence still played well in 2023 but needs to cut down on the turnovers. He is only 24 years old and already a top-10 quarterback by most estimations. Now, the Jaguars' attention should turn to putting the right supporting cast around him."
Lawrence had a good not great 2023 season, completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 4,016 yards with 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and seven lost fumbles. While he generally made good decisions, he also made a few puzzling mistakes, including going off script and trying a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-2 in the finale. His penchant for fumbling also hurt the offense's overall performance.
Having said that, there are several things that hindered Lawrence's play in 2023. The most important one was the offensive line's inability to protect him, ranking 28th in pass block win rate. His ability to make quick decisions and get rid of the football generally masked the group's inability to hold their ground, especially inside. However, he was pressured at a high rate and the poor protection he got led to an injured-marred season.
In 2023, Lawrence hurt his knee, sprained both his ankle and his knee, and suffered a concussion. He told the media that playing through injuries shouldn't be an excuse for his poor play but there's no doubt it took a toll on him. If the Jaguars want to ensure their franchise quarterback doesn't take another step back, they'll need to address the interior offensive line in the offseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cannot afford to waste Trevor Lawrence's prime
Urban Meyer ruined Trevor Lawrence's rookie season, so the Jaguars did the right thing in 2022. Besides pairing him with a head coach who actually knew what he was doing, they made upgrades to his supporting cast. The moves led to the AFC South title and a trip to the playoffs. However, they took the foot off the gas pedal last year. The end result was evident in his statline and the team's overall record.
Their regression should be a wake-up call, that they must continually revamp the roster if they want to take some pressure off their franchise quarterback and enjoy sustained success. At times last year, it looked like Lawrence was trying to do too much to make up for the team's dearth of talent. That doesn't excuse him from turning the ball over, but he wouldn't have probably taken matters into his own hands if he had a bit more talent to work with.
Trevor Lawrence is still a top-10 quarterback but if the Jacksonville Jaguars want to get the most out of him, they cannot once again give him a subpar supporting cast. This offseason must be devoted to making the moves they should've made last year.