“Here comes the sun, do, do, do,
Here comes the sun
And I say, it’s all right.”
I’m sure you all know the Beatles song, “Here Comes The Sun,” but the song could also work as a description of the Jaguars loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday. Despite losing 24-21 to the Bengals, Trevor Lawrence comfortably played his best game as a Jaguar. Lawrence went 17-24 for 204 yards, and added on two rushing touchdowns. The passing numbers seem meager, but one stat in particular stands out among the rest.
TNF Quarterback Spotlight— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 1, 2021
12/17, 236 yards, 2 TD over 2.5 seconds TTT
7/7, 127 yards (18.1 YPA) on play action#JAXvsCIN | #RuleTheJungle | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/6CfgA6Nj6U
That’s right, folks. On play action, Trevor Lawrence went 7-7, for 124 yards. The Jaguars have finally begun to unleash Lawrence as a runner, and allowing him to use his mobility to make plays that I haven’t seen a Jaguars QB make in my life. So, let’s open the film room to see what worked, and how the Jaguars can keep the sunshine rolling.
Split Zone/Zone Read Effectiveness
James Robinson and the Jaguars running game had their best game of the season in Week Four, against a Bengals defense that was second in Football Outsider’s Rushing Defense DVOA metric. The Jaguars finished with 139 yards rushing, at an outstanding 4.6 yards per rush. A large majority of that was due to Robinson’s smooth running, but the Jaguars have finally allowed Trevor Lawrence to pull the ball on read options, punishing overaggressive edge defenders. The Jaguars love running these keepers with a TE off the line of scrimmage, mainly as a counter to all of the split zone runs they throw at a team. Early in the season Lawrence wasn’t pulling these on option plays. Now, defenses have another threat out of the backfield to worry about.
What Lawrence is also doing now is pulling the ball and running when nobody is open. This is important because his legs kept a lot of drives alive on Thursday, something we weren’t seeing through the first three weeks. Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer mentioned earlier in the preseason that he wanted to run Lawrence more, per ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. Four weeks into the season, we’re finally seeing it come to light.
BUILDING OUT PLAY ACTION
Off of these run plays, Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell did a great job of scheming up play action passes for Trevor Lawrence to throw the ball on the move, and get him outside of the pocket. For an offense that made everything look so difficult on themselves through the first three weeks, you started to see what this offense could potentially be with Lawrence at the helm early in his career. A play the Jaguars ran a lot is a bootleg to get Lawrence out of the pocket and running a curl with the isolated receiver to that side, mainly Marvin Jones.
However, when it was time to unleash, Trevor Lawrence delivered. On the deep pass to LaViska Shenault, the Jaguars run a switch release with Tavon Austin running a deep curl and Shenault running a vertical route. This is a throw on the move with pressure coming, and Lawrence throws this to Shenault’s inside shoulder, away from defensive back Trae Waynes. This is a beautiful throw, and one that a QB has to improvise to make.
The audacity of this throw pic.twitter.com/ooH32pKPe6— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) October 4, 2021
The throw to Jamal Agnew might have been my favorite pass of the night, even more than the pass to Shenault. The second level defenders get pulled by the play action, but a linebacker drops deep enough to possibly test the deep cross by Agnew. Lawrence is looking at Shenault running vertically, then finds Agnew and drops it into a bucket. An amazing grab by Agnew as well, but that is the only spot you can put that ball. I mentioned last week that the game was beginning to slow down for Lawrence, and on Thursday you can see that.
Like c'mon man this is an absurd throw pic.twitter.com/bkCPKbkiav— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) October 4, 2021
Throughout the rest of the season, I think the Jaguars will continue to use the run game and Lawrence’s mobility to build on their passing game. I do think that Lawrence missed late on a few passes against zone, which is expected of a rookie, but the more reps he gets will benefit him heavily. Losing DJ Chark for the rest of the season is brutal for a team missing vertical speed, and today the team put AJ Cann on IR, which will impact their run game. However, as long as Lawrence continues to improve, the sun will keep shining in Duval.