Believe The Hype | The Jacksonville Jaguars Are Set To Make AFC Championship Game Run In 2023

The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a great 2022 season, the first under Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson who in year one led the team to a division title and AFC Divisional playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. If there is a such thing as a good loss that was one, the Jaguars battled the Chiefs for about three quarters before succumbing late in the fourth 27-20.

That heartbreaking loss came on the heels of the third biggest playoff comeback in league history as the Jags overcame a 30-3 deficit to stun the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30. Only the 1993 Buffalo Bills who came back from a bigger deficit — 35-3 — to shock the Warren Moon-led Houston Oilers 41-38, and the 2014 Indianapolis Colts overcame a 38-10 deficit to knock off the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44. For a team with a second-year quarterback to have that type of playoff run it means everything, and heading into 2023 the Jaguars are not taking any of that for granted. In fact they’re using it as fuel for what should be a huge season down in Duval County. 

Jags Will Take Another Huge Step Because Trevor Lawrence Will Continue To Ascend

Lawrence, the 2021 No. 1 overall pick, struggled in his rookie season, but it wasn’t his fault: He played for Urban Meyer, who was fired just 13 games into his NFL coaching career. The toxic environment that Meyer created festered until the aforementioned Pederson arrived and took Lawrence and the team to levels not fathomable with Meyer. That led to Lawrence passing for over 4,100 yards, 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. A huge difference from year one under Meyer where he passed for just over 3,600, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Team records were 3-14 in year one and 9-8 in year two. 

For most quarterbacks year three is where you typically the biggest jump, and with Lawrence’s skill set and ability it’s easy to see why it’s highly plausible he does it in a big, big way.

In an interview with ESPN’s Michael DiRocco, the former Clemson Tigers star talked about how the offseason has gone, amongst other things.

“It was definitely a different feel in this offseason, being able to unwind and then disconnect,” Lawrence said Monday. “My rookie year didn’t really have an offseason going into the league. Then last year with the coaching change and all that, not sure what was going to happen, and then having coach Doug Pederson hired and trying to learn the system and all that, you really don’t have much of an offseason because you’re trying to figure out what the next step is.”

“To have the same staff, to have a lot of the same players, to have that carryover, and the system being the same, that feels good having that and being able to focus on little parts of my game instead of just making sure I got the installs and know the plan coming into practice,” Lawrence said. “Not having that stress of just learning the playbook, I can just really focus on my game and my mechanics.”

Pederson Believes In His Big Time QB

The Jags offense is very QB-friendly, meaning Lawrence should be even better in it this season than last, when he was very good. Pederson is all-in on his talented 6-foot-6 gunslinging playmaker.

“He’s the key to the offense and makes it work,” he said. “So he understands his role from the standpoint of put the ball in the playmaker’s hands. But now, having a full year of the offense under his belt too, that gives him a lot of confidence. He’s still learning, but he’s now teaching the offense to the other guys.“

The Jaguars offense is loaded with the likes of running back Travis Etienne, wide receivers Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and the return of former Atlanta Falcons star Calvin Ridley from a year-long suspension. Plus talented tight end Evan Engram. In all, the Jaguars have all the ingredients offensively to make some real noise in the AFC, let’s see if they can. 

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