Jacksonville, FL – It was just a quick move. If you haven’t watched the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence At that exact moment, you missed it.
but one second Shake Dikembe’s finger that looks like Lawrence’s Mutombo Aiming at the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Cameron Sutton After I drop a throw on Sutton’s jumping toes Marvin Jones Jr.Hands to complete in the pre-season match were very important.
He meant: “No, no, no.” Lawrence said after the game that he was just having fun because he grew up a Tennessee fan and Sutton played for the Falls. But maybe a finger shake can also mean a lot.
That probably means yes, the sophomore quarterback is fine with the way he’s playing in Sunday’s season opener for the Washington Commanders. Maybe that means he’s heading into breakout season.
The Jaguars have no chance of breaking out of their usual spot in the NFL vault if it doesn’t. With Lawrence’s junior season having been a mess – partly for reasons beyond his control – he enters 2022 with the same question surrounding him as he did last September:
Will he become the next young quarterback from the NFL?
Lawrence threw 12 touchdown passes, got 22 spins (17 interceptions) and scored 3-14 in 2021. It was the opposite of everything he’s been through on the football field over the past seven years. He threw 17 interceptions in three seasons at Clemson and had only four early season losses at Clemson and Cartersville (Georgia) High School combined.
Some of it was Lawrence’s fault, but it’s hard to argue that former Juarez coach Urban Meyer’s football decisions and the dysfunctional environment he created and nurtured inside the building weren’t the most important factors. The issues became clear very quickly.
Meyer had Lawrence – the No. 1 player overall, and ESPN draft expert Mel Keeper Jr. has been named the best potential quarterback since Andrew Lack in 2012 – alternating days with a first-team attack with Gardner Menchu around the camp. He declared it an open competition, and didn’t name Meyer Lawrence Lawrence until August 25, 2021 — four days before the final preliminary match.
Things got worse…and embarrassingly, from Meyer’s “unexplained” actions in an Ohio bar to his inexplicable sitting with the team’s best player to verbal abuse of his staff and Alleged assault on a player.
“I wouldn’t believe you if you told me that was the way it was going this year,” Lawrence said after Jaguar fired Mayer on December 16.
The 2021 season has been so disjointed that the picture of Lawrence’s future remains as murky as it was a year ago.
“Any questions anyone has asked in the last season, I don’t know that many of those have been answered,” said Troy Aikman, analyst for ESPN Monday Night Football and quarterback for the Hall of Fame.
Aikman can definitely call. He was the #1 pick in 1989, throwing nine touchdowns and 18 interceptions and going 0-11 as a start with the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. Aikman was Jimmy Johnson’s first draft and the cornerstone of rebuilding the franchise, but it took two more seasons before Aikman threw more touchdown passes than interceptions and lead the Cowboys to a record.
They won the Super Bowl in its fourth season, but that first year was bad.
“Unfortunately for the midfielder, whatever weaknesses there are within a team or organization, they show themselves through the midfielder,” he said. “If you can’t run the ball, it’s in the middle. You can’t stop anyone in defence, that’s in the middle and then they have to try to make up for everything. And if you play from behind and then you try to get the team back to it, you make interceptions.
“Everyone comes back at the end to point their fingers in the middle.”
Lawrence and Jaguar in the same place. His shifts were a problem, but he also had problems with his accuracy. He completed 59.6% of his passes, well below the league average of 65.5%. Only two midfielders had a worse completion rate than last season Lawrence – their junior teammates Justin Fields (58.9) and Zach Wilson (55.6).
Lawrence was hit by the league’s top 39 points, but even if all those passes were caught, Lawrence’s completion percentage was 66.1%—barely above the league average. He enters the season worried about his decision-making and accuracy.
“He’s got to get more accurate with the throws he has to do literally every time he’s back,” said NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. “He threw a deep post to Christian Kirk That day, he knocked him down, but he did it Evan Ingram on the intersection. Could you take the position? It’s a lower pitch. Ingram is a much better throw, an easier throw, and probably the easiest to complete.
“He has it all there [talent-wise]. I think he has to work on those two things now.”
Added maven receivers like Kirk and Zee Jones And Engram’s veteran court ending should help Lawrence improve decision-making and accuracy.
Playing for coach Doug Pederson should also be a boost. Positive culture alone helped Lawrence, but he also adopted Pederson’s insult – which shaped Carson Wentz The NFL MVP Candidate.
Lawrence’s teammates say he feels more comfortable on the court, makes quicker decisions, and throws the ball more confidently than he did when he was a rookie.
“He sees things much faster and can pick up players when they are open faster and where the ball should go [the] Coverage, “Tight end Dan Arnold He said. “He feels a lot more comfortable in there, like more like, ‘I’m going to put the ball in place and I know my receiver is going to get there, and I know that’s the place to put it. “
“Even outside the quarterback, if you have an NFL player who thinks a lot and doesn’t play loose, you can watch him in a movie and you can see it as clear as day. When he plays loosely, he’s on it.”
running back Travis Etienne Jr. He played with Lawrence at Clemson for three years, so he has more background with Lawrence than anyone else on the Jaguar roster. Etienne saw a difference in the quarterback when they returned to the field together in the spring.
“He has to believe in himself,” Etienne said. “He should have had that. He was always a very humble guy, but he had to find a way to be cocky. In this league you have to be cocky. Not cocky – just like confidence. You have to be confident about things. I feel like he knows that now. And that’s what he’s been working on. And you can see the way he’s been playing.”
Pederson didn’t see much of Lawrence’s work while taking a year off from football in 2021, but he did see plenty of tapes after his appointment in February and believes Lawrence has improved.
“It looks sharp. It looks fragile,” Pederson said. “Oh my gosh, he’s seeing the field well at the moment. He’s leading the attack. He’s still in a growth mindset, which is exciting. He still wants to get better every day. We’ve seen that through him. He’s leading not just by example but the ability to go for the players.” And talk to them about roads or O-line protection or whatever.
“It’s in a good place.”
There was a huge positive for Lawrence as a rookie. Things deteriorated to the point where 22-year-old Lawrence thought he should stand up to the media and advocate an end to dysfunction and distractions. Mayer’s follies forced him to emerge as the undisputed captain and face of the franchise.
“It’s a lot to put in my first-year rookie midfielder for the first time,” said Pedersen. “There’s a lot that goes into that. You represent the organization, you lead the football team, you stand in front of the media every day and every week. It’s tough, and then he goes through what he went through and how he kind of went through it and stood tall and really took a lot of bullets And he did a really great job dealing with all of that, I think that’s going to make it even more special as we go along.
“The fact that he was able to deal with that early in his career, you don’t see that often in the league.”
Baldinger said the way Lawrence treated himself last season proves to him that Lawrence will be a quarterback.
“It was probably put into it much earlier than he wanted or needed to, but you know, it will be better for him in the future.”
Lawrence says he’s more comfortable and confident on the field, taking Pederson’s attack at a faster rate than Daryl Bevel did as a rookie, and he’s throwing the ball better than ever. He didn’t have to recover from surgery on his left shoulder (without throwing) or prepare for this off-season project, and this allowed him to work on his mechanics and get more powerful.
And while his rookie season has been full of challenges, he knows he can’t just flow in 2021.
“It’s important to kind of learn from last year and not always think about it all the time, you don’t want to think about the bad things, but you want to use what you learned and not make the same mistakes especially as individuals, as players, things that went right, And it happened wrongly; We all have things we can improve.
“For me, I learned a lot and I wouldn’t say it’s like starting over because I’m grateful for those things I learned. I don’t want to start over.”
The funny thing about finger-wagging is that Lawrence’s teammates didn’t see it. They saw the throw and watched Jones fish, but didn’t react until after the match and the footage ended on social media.
And they loved him.
“You have to have that splurge in the middle,” Etienne said.
Arnold said he saw the bragging from Lawrence again: After the one-handed quarterback glanced at himself, he rolled right to avoid heavy safety and found Marvin Jones Jr. in the back of the end zone for a touchdown in the Jaguar’s 26-11 win over the Indianapolis Colts in 2021 final.
Maybe this version of Trevor Lawrence has been here forever. If that’s the case, said Arnold, Lawrence and Jaguar will take off.
“You want the gunslinger back in there. He’d be like, ‘I’m going to put this ball where you have to go and I’ll give it to you and you’ll take it home,'” Arnold said.
“The kind of thing you love to have on a quarterback. You just see it in his eyes.”