Following Trevor Lawrence’s rookie NFL season, many people questioned whether he’d develop into the quarterback he’s been projected as since high school. After one tumultuous campaign (mainly because of Urban Meyer’s behavior) in the NFL, many analysts and fans were ready to write Lawrence off. But year two is already off to a much better start as Lawrence and the Jaguars are 2-1, having won back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 3 and 4 of the 2019 season.
Lawrence has undergone a drastic transformation in just three games this year. Through three weeks in ‘21, Lawrence had thrown five touchdowns to seven interceptions, posted a 22.6 QBR, and Jacksonville was 0-3. In the same number of games this season, Lawrence has six TDs to one INT with a 71.1 QBR, and the Jaguars are 2-1. The sample size is small, like at Costco, but ask fans in Jacksonville how good it tastes.
Lawrence isn’t nearly the first No. 1 overall pick to struggle out of the gate. Famously, Peyton Manning broke the record for most INTs by a rookie QB in ‘98, and everyone knows how his career turned out. Peyton was also projected as the next big-time QB to hit the NFL, and now he’s a Hall of Famer and considered by many as the greatest regular season QB of all time.
The Jaguars have a gem in Lawrence and stunted his growth initially by making Urban Meyer his first head coach. Jacksonville seems to have corrected that by bringing in new head coach Doug Pederson, a former NFL QB and a Super Bowl-winning head coach. You can say whatever you want about Pederson as a coach, but you can’t take that Super Bowl experience away from him. So, it looks like whatever bit of wisdom he’s bestowed to Lawrence, it’s working.
Jacksonville won its last two games by 52 points combined. Lawrence completed over 71 percent of his throws in their Week 3 win over the Chargers and 83 percent the previous week in a shutout victory against the Colts. Lawrence threw five TDs and zero picks in those games and recorded passer ratings of 121.5 and 115.5.
Saying Lawrence is off to an incredible start this season is an understatement. He looks like the guy we’ve expected to see all along. Jacksonville’s biggest test thus far will come in Week 4 when the Jags travel to Philadelphia to square off against the undefeated Eagles. The Eagles rank fifth in points scored, while the Jaguars are seventh. Both teams are top six in total yards, with Philly ranking first in that category. This game also marks the return of Pederson to Philly as an opposing head coach. Just one more storyline to keep in mind.
Win or lose this week, Jacksonville has a chance to win the AFC South and could become the favorite to do so should they get past the Eagles. The Jaguars did just beat up on the Chargers, a team that had actual expectations coming into the season. Philly has been accused of taking advantage of a favorable schedule in their first three games, which is what they’re supposed to do. That also means that while they are one of only two 3-0 teams in the league, some view it as fool’s gold, but others call Philly the best football team.
A win over the Eagles would put Jacksonville at 3-1 for the first time since ‘18. That season fell apart as the Jaguars lost seven straight after the hot start. But if Lawrence continues to progress as he has, Jacksonville will be a tough team to beat this year. After facing Philadelphia, the Jags have a reasonably tame schedule on their hands. They won’t meet another really good team until Week 10 against the Chiefs in Kansas City. Before the Chiefs, the Jags play the Texans, Colts, Giants, Broncos, and Raiders. That should be at least another three wins, if not four, for Jacksonville.
Even if the Jags can’t defeat the Eagles, I’ll be very interested to see what Lawrence can produce against that Philly defense. The Eagles haven’t allowed more than eight points in their last two games against the Vikings and Commanders. It feels like Lawrence and the Jaguars should be able to do more damage than that. Regardless, it feels like something special could unfold with Lawrence and Jacksonville.