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The Jacksonville Jaguars are primed for the most exciting season in franchise history. Man, does it feel good to say that!
This week will be one in which Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has an opportunity to accomplish a couple of firsts in the NFL.
He will have a chance to go up against one of his former teammates at Clemson in Arizona Cardinals safety Isiah Simmons, have an opportunity to secure his first victory as an NFL player, and has a chance to right some wrongs that have hampered him through the first two weeks of the season.
For Lawrence, his abilities are obvious; Lawrence is slated to become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, at least he has the potential to be. Over the first two weeks of the season Lawrence has posted the worst completion percentage in the NFL: exactly 50%. He expected completion percentage – completion probability - isn’t much better at 62.5%.
The rookie quarterback isn’t down on himself, though. Even with a rough outing last week against the Broncos, a game that featured six incompletions in a row at one point for Lawrence, he felt he learned a lot of what to do and what not to do moving forward. Progress is all one can one can want from a rookie during the first few weeks of the season.
“I feel like I’m getting better. I know this past game, you look at the stats or whatever, it doesn’t look great, but I feel like there was a lot of things where I grew. I think I got better.”
The most important aspect of Lawrence’s potential improvement this week against Arizona has been his ability to recognize his previous mistakes. For example, during his press conference on Wednesday, the young signal-caller acknowledged that he may have thrown the ball away a few too many times when he could have run the football.
There were a couple of reads he missed on, and one where he was late, particularly the interception thrown that was intended for rookie tight end Luke Farrell, Lawrence said.
“That’s going to happen sometimes. But if you don’t have the first turnover, that doesn’t make the second one as bad. You can kind of manage that, so just managing those plays and then for me is just taking more completions.
“I’ve said it a bunch of times to you guys, we always talk about our room, [Passing Game Coordinator] Coach Schottenheimer says ‘the power of completions.’ You get a guy the ball, have a couple completions in row, they’re going to make plays.”
Those plays can come in the form of check downs, or simply getting the ball out of his hands faster, even if it means the ball doesn’t travel 100 yards in the air every down. That, of course, is hyperbole, but Lawrence is ranked first in the NFL with 25 passing attempts of 15 or more yards.
The second highest? Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
This week, Lawrence will have a chance to put all of his lessons and experience to the test. And I’ll be against one of his former teammates in Simmons, a player that Lawrence calls “dynamic”.
“The one thing about him is just he’s really dynamic because he’s big, really long, and he’s fast and powerful, so he can kind of do everything,” said Lawrence.
“He can play in the box, he can get on the perimeter, chase guys down, pass rush a little bit, like he can kind of do it all so that’s one thing. [I] just have an eye out for him. They have a lot of great players, so there are going to be a lot of guys you have to keep an eye on.”
During his time at Clemson, Simmons was unable to lay a hit on Lawrence. Of course, that’s a big “no-no” in football, to hit your own quarterback in practice. Now, those limitations will be off, and certainly Simmons will want to lay a hit or two on the young quarterback.
“I know he’s wanted to a few times, but he’ll have his chance this weekend. I’m sure I’ll be hearing from him all game.”