There’s perhaps no more important player on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster than its quarterback and former first-overall pick, Trevor Lawrence.
Though last year the QB faced a faux QB competition due to incompetence among the previous staff, led up by former HC Urban Meyer, this season there hasn’t been any splitting of repetitions, giving Lawrence all of the opportunities to learn the new playbook and get adjusted to the team now led by head coach Doug Pederson.
So, far, so good, Pederson said when speaking with reporters following the team’s seventh organized team activity on Monday.
“He’s doing a really nice job, really nice job leading the football team number one and just executing the offense. Obviously, I’ve been impressed with him throwing the football and how easy it is for him to throw and the communication too,” said Pederson
“That’s the growth process just watching him and the questions that he asks. It’s been fun just to kind of get to know him a little bit. We’ve put in him in some tough situations, we’ve put the whole team in tough situations, which is part of the process too, and he’s been able to handle those really well.”
Lawrence wasn’t afforded quite the same opportunity last year. For all of the team’s offseason and well into the preseason, Lawrence split first-team reps with Gardner Minshew II, who later would be dealt via trade to the Philadelphia Eagles for a sixth-round pick. That played a role in his development, along with a host of other issues last year.
“Obviously, we want to focus on Trevor [Lawrence] and getting him as many reps as we can. But I do feel like the other two [QB C.J. Beathard and QB Jake Luton] are getting a substantial amount of the reps themselves and doing well with what the opportunities given,” Pederson said last week, shortly before the team’s fourth OTA of the offseason.
That demonstrates some contrast between last year’s s staff and this year’s where one of the primary goals heading into training camp and into the season is to make sure the franchise’s starting QB gets all of the reps he needs to be successful.
Some of that is already being seen by Lawrence himself, too. In speaking with reporters on Monday, Lawrence indicated that the team’s offensive install, the third install this offseason, has been going smooth making plenty of progress on learning the entirety of the playbook.
“You kind of imagine it goes this way. It’s been really smooth. Like I said, being able to install it three times really helps you each time understand it more and more and pick up on little things and just execute it better all the way around, so that’s helped a lot,” Lawrence said on Monday.
Photo gallery credit: Kevin Nguyen
“Then by the time training camp comes, obviously we’re going to back and review stuff, but then we can really hit the ground running and have everything in and script practices a certain way where we have all of our ammo instead of just install by install. We can kind of have the whole playbook.”
Last year, Lawrence had what many would classify as a “down” season, throwing just 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, while completing only 59.6% of his passes. A rookie year marred by controversy, however, not everything can be placed squarely on his shoulders.
But, it’s clear that this year is different, and the lessons learned from last season have carried over.
“Last year helped me a lot. That was really my first time really dealing with checking in and out of things, getting us in the right play, good matchup, route, whatever it is,” Lawrence said when asked about the adjustments that can be made using this year’s playbook.
“So last year, it was tough to think about all those things. You have all these options and figuring out which one’s best. Now that I’ve had that experience, it helps a lot because I know I have a few things.”
Something else that has helped Lawrence, and likely the rest of the team’s roster, has been the new coaching staff. Though Lawrence says he doesn’t think about last year’s disaster anymore, indicating that he and the team were “past it,” he did indicate that this year’s staff, being on the same page has made everything much smoother.
“Definitely the collaboration, it’s more voices, which is great,” Lawrence said when asked about the voices giving input on offense.
The Jaguars, and Pederson, hired a slew of coaches on the offensive side of the football, including quarterback coach Mike McCoy, passing game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and offensive coordinator Press Taylor. Those three, along with Pederson, will be important to Lawrence’s development, along with the rest of the offense.
“Like I said, they just do such a good job communicating. [There’s] not many situations where guys aren’t on the same page and where they’re disagreeing and thinking two different things. Obviously, we have a lot of great conversation of what’s the best idea for that particular situation, but [there’s] a lot of communication which is really good.”
So far, so good.