The Jacksonville Jaguars know that Trevor Lawrence alone, regardless of how talented he is, cannot win football games. This is why they made an aggressive effort to surround him with lots of weapons. So far, they've done a good job, and Lawrence is in a position to pick up where he left off last year. Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report has taken notice of the work the third-year quarterback and his teammates have put in throughout the offseason and dubbed some of the biggest winners coming out of this year's training camp.
Gagnon drew up a list of winners and losers and included Jacksonville in the former category, noting that Lawrence has made huge improvements through the summer. On top of that, Gagnon thinks the arrival of Calvin Ridley will be huge for the offense.
"The Jags won their last five games in 2022 before shocking the Chargers with a historic comeback win in the playoffs. It sure seems they're building momentum. Let's see if they can keep "winning" through August and into September."
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft, had somewhat of an underwhelming rookie season. Although he at times flashed the talent that made him a collegiate start at Clemson, he also struggled with the transition to the pros. Having Urban Meyer as his head coach certainly affected his development. Similarly, the signal-caller had a less-than-stellar supporting cast.
The Jags realized they needed to upgrade Lawrence's arsenal of weapons and get him a coach that actually knew what he was doing. They checked off the first box when they hired Doug Pederson and they then proceeded to go on a spending spree in free agency. Under the tutelage of Pederson and an improved supporting cast, Steezy Trev made a huge leap in Year 2, completing 66.34 percent of his passes for 4,113 yards with 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
Lawrence has been working in the offseason to keep improving next season. He's added weight and worked on his mechanics to be an even more efficient passer. These changes should lead to an even more productive 2023 campaign. Ridley's arrival should surely help too.
Ridley, a first-round pick in the 2018 draft, showed signs of stardom early in his NFL career, catching 217 passes for 3,061 yards with 26 touchdowns during the first three years of his stint with the Atlanta Falcons. However, he stepped away from football five games into the 2021 season to heal physically and mentally.
During his retirement, Ridley was suspended for betting on football games and missed the 2022 season. Still, the Jaguars knew how much of a game-changer he was and acquired him from the Falcons before last year's trade deadline. The Alabama product was reinstated in March and has wasted no time to prove he's still the same player he was early in his career.
The Jaguars offense is loaded with talent ahead of the 2023 season
Heading into the 2023 season, Jacksonville has enough firepower to keep up with the offensive powerhouses in the AFC. Christian Kirk and Zay Jones are back after putting up career numbers last year. Similarly, the team's brass was able to retain tight end Evan Engram, giving him a three-year deal worth $41.5 million that ensures he remains in Duval for the foreseeable future.
Although Ridley is expected to be Lawrence's top target, he's got ample options, so he doesn't have to force throws to him. As Engram noted in a recent interview, opposing teams will have to pick their poison. On that note, defenses will also have to account for the running back. Led by Travis Etienne, Jacksonville should have no trouble churning out yards in the ground.
The one area for concern ahead of the 2023 season could be the offensive line. Left guard Ben Bartch and Tyler Shatley, the primary backup inside, are currently out. The good news is that Shatley should return soon. He should be able to hold the fort while Bartch returns. Also, rookie Anton Harrison is making the switch to the right side after lining up at left tackle at Oklahoma. His transition will be worth monitoring through out the regular season.
The bottom line is that even though Jacksonville Jaguars have to work a few kinks out before the opener, they have enough talent to field one of the top-scoring offenses in the league next year.