Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the brink of a division title and playoff berth. This didn’t seem possible after last season’s debacle under then-head coach Urban Meyer. But when you hire a proven, Super Bowl-winning coach who’s known for developing quarterbacks, the fortunes of a franchise can change overnight. And that’s exactly what head coach Doug Pederson has done as pertains to Lawrence and the Jaguars as a whole. The turnaround has also caught the eye of many, including former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith.
During a recent appearance on the “BallFather Podcast” with Reggie Roberts, Smith, raved about the maturity of Lawrence.
“Trevor Lawrence, second-year quarterback, he is really starting to play, like the first pick in the draft. It’s just amazing what he’s done. The maturity that you’ve seen in the last four or five games has been off the charts.
“He’s, you know, he’s playing like a seasoned veteran, Reg, I think he’s only thrown one interception, and seven touchdowns in the month of November,” Smith continued. “Right, your quarterback is taking care of the ball, you’re gonna have a chance to win every week, and he’s doing a great job of that.”
Can You See Him Now?
After a stellar November, Lawrence has continued his hot play in December, throwing 14 touchdowns and just that one interception in his last seven games combined. That’s a huge reason for the Jaguars turnaround in their season, and he has given them a shot at a division title and playoff berth.
— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) December 26, 2022
Lawrence has been better than Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow over that time frame. The 2021 No. 1 overall pick has showcased that elite skill set that made him the top overall pick.
In his first year Lawrence was stuck with Urban Meyer who failed miserably as an NFL head coach. Beyond Meyer’s many issues on and off the field, and there were many, was the offense he had Lawrence playing in. It didn’t showcase any of Lawrence’s ability, his strong arm, his ability to read coverages or his ability to use his legs as a dual-threat signal-caller. Point blank, the offense stunk and wasn’t catered to Lawrence’s skill set.
Pederson Has Been Key To Lawrence’s Maturation
Enter Pederson, who immediately catered his offense to what Lawrence does well. That has led the former Clemson Tigers star to pass for nearly 3,800 yards, 24 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. But the biggest number is the seven wins and a chance to win a division title.
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
Smith believes Pederson deserves a ton of credit for fixing Lawrence and the mess left by Meyer.
“Let’s give props to coach Doug Pederson, because he’s changed the culture there very, very quickly. And that’s what you got to do. To overcome five-game losing streaks, to overcome a three-game losing streak, you know, in the second year, is incredible.”
“Doug Pederson will be in the running for Coach of the Year, there’s no doubt about it. Even though they’ve had a multiple game-losing streak. He’ll get some votes because that place was a dumpster fire when he took over.”
Week 18 Versus Titans Will Determine Division
With a week 17 tilt against the one-win Texans on deck, the Jaguars will look to avenge an early season home loss. And while a win won’t mean anything unless they beat the Titans the following week, Pederson says they’re not resting healthy players for that game.
“There’s never a meaningless game. Never, ever, ever, ever,” Pederson said during a press conference on Wednesday. “You play to win every game. The only way I rest players is if they’re hurt and can’t go.”
Trevor Lawrence: 91.8 PFF Grade during the second half of the season
Highest among all QBs 👀 pic.twitter.com/LyEiJsIqXX
— PFF (@PFF) December 23, 2022
Having gone 4-1 in their past five games to go from 3-7 to 7-8, Pederson knows it’s important to keep the momentum. Sitting players who are capable of playing isn’t an option for him.
The Pederson/Lawrence combo is just getting started down in Jacksonville, and they’ve already put the league on notice.