Can Trevor Lawrence break Jaguars passing records in 2023?

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jaguars coach Doug Pederson can see the distinction.

The quarterback who walked into Pederson’s first staff assembly in spring 2022 is totally different from the one who has been flinging footballs everywhere in the follow area the previous six weeks. It is the best way Trevor Lawrence talks concerning the offense in conversations with Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor. Lawrence’s interactions with receivers, particularly after performs that did not work. The sureness with which he speaks in assembly rooms and the huddle.

Lawrence is working at a special degree in 2023, and Pederson can not help however be excited for the season, which kicks off Sunday on the Indianapolis Colts (1 p.m. ET, FOX).

“The largest factor that I’ve seen with Trevor from the place we had him a yr in the past within the offseason to at present, simply his confidence is unimaginable,” Pederson mentioned. “It is off the charts. He is put the previous behind him, he is targeted on the long run and actually embraced this chance with this soccer staff.”

And actually, why should not he?

Lawrence is taking part in for a quarterback-friendly coach. He is comfy with the offense in his second season with Pederson, who turned former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz into an MVP candidate of their second season collectively in 2017. All of the Jaguars’ playmakers from final season’s Tenth-ranked offense — receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, tight finish Evan Engram and operating again Travis Etienne Jr. — are again. They’ve additionally added former 1,300-yard receiver Calvin Ridley, who was the spotlight of coaching camp and preseason in his return from a virtually two-year absence after stepping away for psychological well being causes in 2021 and a playing suspension in 2022.

Can Lawrence put up huge numbers with this offense in 2023? May he break the franchise’s single-season passing data, direct the most efficient offense in Jaguars historical past and even surpass 5,000 yards by way of the air?

In different phrases, may he be headed for an enormous Yr 3?

“It feels that means,” Taylor mentioned. “Clearly you have to show it each down on this league, however it actually looks like he is sort of picked up the place he left off on the finish of the season and carried that by way of your complete offseason.”

THE BEST SEASON by a quarterback in Jaguars franchise historical past belongs to Blake Bortles in 2015. The No. 3 general choose threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns in his second season, breaking the earlier marks of 4,367 yards (Mark Brunell in 1996) and 23 touchdowns (David Garrard in 2010).

For Lawrence to interrupt Bortles’ marks — which got here in a 16-game common season — he’d need to common 260.5 yards and a pair of.12 touchdowns per sport. Lawrence averaged 241.9 yards per sport final season, so one other completion or two per outing may get him there.

The addition of Ridley, who says he is mentally and bodily wholesome and wanting to return as one of many NFL’s high receivers, makes that doable. He showcased his playmaking potential within the Jaguars’ last preseason sport when he made a back-shoulder catch whereas getting each toes in bounds alongside the sideline. He offers the Jaguars a reliable No. 1 receiver, and it is anticipated opposing defenses will make limiting him a high precedence, which ought to loosen issues up for everybody else.

All of Lawrence’s different receiving choices are coming off profession seasons. Kirk (84 catches for 1,108 yards), Jones (82 for 823) and Engram (73 for 766) set private highs in catches and receiving yards — and Engram’s season was one of the best by a decent finish in Jaguars historical past. Etienne ran for 1,125 yards and had 1,441 yards of complete offense after lacking his rookie season due to a Lisfranc damage to his left foot.

Add in two rookies — operating again Tank Bigsby and tight finish Brenton Unusual — who’re going to have vital roles in 2023, too.

“I really feel actually assured in our group [of playmakers going] up towards anybody,” Lawrence mentioned. “We do not play towards the opposite ability teams, so it does not actually matter as a lot, however I do assume we’re evenly matched if not above [other groups of playmakers].”

If we glance again at Pederson’s days because the Eagles’ coach, there’s precedent for quarterback development within the second yr of his offensive system. Wentz threw for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns with 14 interceptions and had a Whole QBR of 46.7 as a rookie in 2016, Pederson’s first season with the Eagles.

In 2017, Wentz led the NFL with a 78.6 Whole QBR and threw for 33 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 13 video games earlier than his season ended due to a torn left ACL. He was on tempo to throw for 4,056 yards and completed third within the MVP voting. Lawrence already made a powerful leap from his rookie yr to final season, so can he make one other one just like Wentz in his second yr with Pederson?

Lawrence’s rookie season was a problem on and off the sector. He tied the NFL lead with 17 interceptions and threw 12 landing passes, and solely fellow rookies Justin Fields and Zach Wilson had a worse completion percentages than Lawrence’s 59.6%. Lawrence additionally handled the dysfunction that was City Meyer’s 11-month tenure as Jaguars head coach in 2021. There have been questionable teaching selections, alleged yelling at assistant coaches, the demeaning of gamers and an environment of mistrust contained in the constructing. After Meyer was fired, Lawrence needed to welcome a brand new coach (Pederson) with a brand new system that offseason.

It took some time for him to get rolling, however by midseason of Yr 2 he began feeling comfy in Pederson’s offense. The Jaguars had been recycling performs and executing extra effectively. Lawrence was getting by way of his progressions faster and was capable of acknowledge defensive appears faster and alter performs if wanted.

Pederson mentioned he is seeing much more development in that space from Lawrence.

“He is aware of soccer and he is good about soccer, however he nonetheless desires to maintain issues easy,” Pederson mentioned. “He does not need to complicate issues. … We really feel comfy sufficient to actually enable him, and doubtless extra so even this yr, to have slightly extra say, slightly extra enter, in sport planning simply due to how nicely he sees and processes the sport.”

THE JAGUARS HAVE not traditionally lit up the scoreboard. From the franchise’s first season in 1995 by way of the 2020 season (the final season of 16 regular-season video games), they’ve scored 400 or extra factors twice (2007 and 2017), which is tied with 5 different groups for the fewest within the NFL over that span.

The very best-scoring offense in franchise historical past got here in 2007, when the Jaguars averaged 23.9 offensive factors per sport (not together with factors scored by the protection).

The 2022 Jaguars averaged 22.2 offensive factors per sport. Pederson mentioned within the spring he desires to common seven extra factors per sport in 2023, which might put them in rivalry to be the highest-scoring staff within the NFL. The Kansas Metropolis Chiefs led the NFL final season with 28.2 offensive factors per sport.

“Suppose that is the purpose,” Kirk mentioned. “We step on this area to be one of the best offense within the league, and that is our mindset.”

Including a landing extra per sport is not an outrageous ask. In response to ESPN Stats & Info, 98 groups within the Tremendous Bowl period (since 1966) have elevated their scoring common from the earlier season by seven or extra factors — a listing that features the 2022 Jaguars, who averaged 8.4 offensive factors extra per sport than they did in 2021.

“Now we have the items collectively,” Jones mentioned. “If we simply execute the best way that we all know how … the sky is the restrict for us. We’re potent on the surface. I believe we’re very, very robust on the within so far as receiving is anxious. Our run sport, our tight ends …

“Now we have the items. We simply need to put it collectively.”

That, clearly, begins with Lawrence. And the staff believes it can get the Lawrence it noticed the second half of the 2022 season — from Week 9 on he was second within the NFL in completion proportion (69.7%) and eighth in Whole QBR (65.4), up from 62.5% (twenty seventh) and 45.9 (twenty first), respectively, in Weeks 1-8 — for a full season in 2023.

“It is simply the sunshine change is on,” Kirk mentioned. “All the pieces is so fast, the best way he is capable of undergo his reads and creating that.

“He is working by way of lots of the issues the protection is exhibiting him. … He is doing an incredible job main as a vocal chief, however most significantly, his development and the way he is capable of get by way of every learn.”

There are considerations concerning the offensive line, although, that might actually have an effect on Lawrence’s manufacturing. Left deal with Cam Robinson is suspended for the primary 4 video games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug coverage, which suggests Walker Little strikes into that spot — however Little is coping with a groin damage. Left guard Ben Bartch spent most of camp on the bodily unable to carry out (PUP) listing as he returned from a left knee damage he suffered final season.

Backup heart/guard Tyler Shatley, who took over because the starter at left guard for Bartch, had an atrial fibrillation incident after a follow this summer season and missed three weeks. Proper deal with Anton Harrison, the staff’s No. 27 general choose, is coping with shoulder soreness.

It is protected to say the Jaguars’ line is perhaps ailing to start out the season.

The road had its points final season, too. Along with Bartch’s damage, proper guard Brandon Scherff handled a groin damage nearly all season, and Jacksonville was compelled to start out a third-round rookie (Luke Fortner) at heart. The Jaguars ranked second to final within the league in cross block win charge (48.9%), behind the Indianapolis Colts.

However nonetheless, Lawrence was capable of make up for these points by having the third-fastest time to throw within the NFL (2.59 seconds). Can the offense overcome an unsure offensive line? Time will inform.

WHAT IF EVERYTHING comes collectively completely?

  • If the offense’s manufacturing jumps within the second yr beneath Pederson the best way it did in Philadelphia in 2017 …

  • If Lawrence performs on the degree he did within the second half of 2022 …

  • If Ridley is the participant he was in 2020 …

  • If Kirk, Jones and Engram are as efficient as they had been final season and submit comparable numbers …

  • If Etienne rushes for near 1,000 yards …

  • If Bigsby and Unusual add vital manufacturing as rookies …

  • If the offensive line will get wholesome and protects Lawrence …

Effectively, then there’s an opportunity Lawrence may turn out to be the Tenth participant in NFL historical past to throw for greater than 5,000 yards in a season.

“I am unsure who’s on that listing,” he mentioned. “Most likely not an excellent lengthy listing, huh?”

Nope, however it is filled with among the best quarterbacks to ever play the sport: Drew Brees (who did it 5 instances), Patrick Mahomes (twice), Tom Brady (twice and the one participant to do with totally different groups), Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston, Dan Marino, Matthew Stafford and Justin Herbert.

“I imply, that may be nice [to join that list],” Lawrence mentioned. “I am actually not an enormous stats man. I believe it tells a part of the story, but when we had been to try this, meaning we had a extremely good yr offensively.”

Which normally means a visit to the playoffs. The 9 quarterbacks who’ve thrown for five,000 yards did it a mixed 15 instances, and their groups made the playoffs 9 instances. 4 made the Tremendous Bowl, and one (Mahomes in 2022) gained it.

“Normally you are going to have good stats [as a team if the quarterback throws for 5,000 yards],” Lawrence mentioned. “… however actually the main focus is on profitable.

“But when that [5,000 yards] comes with it, that’d be cool.”

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