October 19, 2021

Trevor Lawrence Continues Ascent Amid Chaotic Start With Jacksonville Jaguars

Six games into his NFL career, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence finally notched his first win. The Jaguars crossed their name off the winless-team list as they defeated the Miami Dolphins in London, 23-20.

Although much of the attention post-game went to how the Dolphins lost the game, there's no question that Lawrence and head coach Urban Meyer deserved to celebrate their feat.

Lawrence's rookie season has already endured quite the rollercoaster thanks to Meyer's antics, but also his own learning experience. A gunslinger in college with impressive stats, Lawrence was given the "generational prospect" tag by some evaluators. Lawrence was an excellent prospect, sure, but he was going to make mistakes as every rookie does.

Some of the lumps early were quite ugly. He completed just 42-of-84 attempts and totaled five interceptions in his first two starts. In Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals, Lawrence tossed two interceptions and lost two fumbles. The game looked fast and he was drowning.

However, over the last three weeks, Lawrence has played much better. He bounced back from the blowout loss to Arizona to a fun duel against Joe Burrow and the Bengals. He lost and failed to throw a touchdown, but also completed numerous highlight throws and completed 70% of his passes on the night.

That progress continued over the last two weeks. His passer rating has been no lower than 92.1 since Week 4, and that culminated in his best performance as a pro against Miami. Lawrence was the key to a fourth-quarter comeback, throwing for 319 passing yards, one touchdown, and, most importantly, no interceptions.

Throughout the game, Lawrence showed the pre-snap understanding of leverage that allowed him to star at Clemson. Jacksonville wisely gave him a variety of formations and leveled reads, and Lawrence flourished. It's reminiscent of how Burrow improved rapidly with experience.

Lawrence's ability to hit throws both over the middle and outside of the numbers was especially notable. He's unafraid to throw the contested pass, and his 29-yard touchdown throw before halftime to Marvin Jones was the epitome of his aggressive mindset. Those are game-changing throws that a franchise playmaker completes.

He wisely took advantage of Miami's backup cornerbacks and struggling safeties in coverage. He delivered dimes throughout the second half, in particular, beating tight coverage and making the Dolphins look helpless. The mix of back-shoulder dimes and seam throws kept Miami on their heels as they gave up repeated long drives.

Lawrence's ability to create peak plays is why he was regarded as such a great prospect. The turnover-worthy plays always come with the territory of aggressive throws. The pendulum cannot exist without the risk, but we have seen the most elite passers thread the needle and avoid turnovers at a standout rate. The former No. 1 pick might not be able to avoid turnovers like Aaron Rodgers, but Lawrence can't operate like Jameis Winston, either. 

He's on the right track thus far. Jacksonville has some nice offensive pieces but they aren't done building yet. They may not even have this coaching staff beyond 2021, and the future of D.J. Chark as the WR1 remains uncertain. The offensive line also needs to be bolstered before it's a standout group. If the Jaguars do not address this offensive line starting next year, Lawrence may become the next big-name "what if?"

But for now, this is a week-to-week process for Lawrence. His accuracy must remain steady as his eyes race across coverages to identify weaknesses. Experience helps bring confidence and muscle memory.

The Week 6 victory was a good reminder to give young quarterbacks time. Lawrence is progressing quickly even if he'll experience struggles again soon. He has all the talent needed to crack the top of the NFL's quarterback list in coming years.

Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration