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It’s tough to set expectations for a quarterback billed as a “generational” quarterback. It’s even tougher to set reasonable expectations for that quarterback, too. Still, Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr attempted to do just that when evaluating all of the second-year signal-callers entering this season.
First, it’s essential to understand some of the contexts regarding Lawrence’s rookie season with the Jaguars. From Week 4 onward, the team’s chemistry deteriorated due to poor leadership, namely because of former Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer and what transpired following the team’s 24-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The team itself was not in great shape, either. Lawrence and the offense would rank 32nd in the NFL with just 253 points scored and 12 passing touchdowns. Lawrence would also toss 17 interceptions throughout the year. Simply put, his rookie campaign was disappointing, as was the 3-14 record the team would hold by season’s end:
With that said, here is what Orr set as “reasonable” expectations for Lawrence:
17 starts, 63% completion rate, two or more game-winning drives, 22 touchdowns, fewer than 15 interceptions.
Breaking it down by each statistic, the first two that stand out as easier benchmarks to hit are 17 starts – the number of games in a given regular season – and a 63% completion percentage rate. For context, Lawrence ranked 31 out of 33 last season with a completion percentage of 59.6%. There were only eight quarterbacks last season to complete less than 63% of his passes.
Three of those quarterbacks were Lawrence and fellow first-round selections, including the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft Zach Wilson (55.6%) and Justin Fields (58.9%).
Expecting a 10-touchdown jump given what the Jaguars surrounded Lawrence with this year in comparison to last season, isn’t unreasonable either.
This portion of Orr’s evaluation was particularly spot-on:
“For all intents and purposes, the Lawrence of 2021 simply doesn’t exist. He won’t be discussed. His film will barely be analyzed. He will—and should—be treated like a rookie quarterback who had a strange sleepover at nightmare camp last year.”
He’s exactly right, too. While Lawrence’s rookie season did occur, it’s probably better to simply ignore the bottom line, not focusing on the numbers but rather how it occurred to get to a proper evaluation.
The Jaguars have set Lawrence up for success this year, at least on the surface, more than the franchise did last year. The team has hired Doug Pederson as the team’s head coach, a quarterback-guru of sorts that has played as a quarterback in the NFL and coached several successful players, including Carson Wentz, Alex Smith and many others.
Along with Pederson, the team hired quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator Press Taylor and passing-game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. Given that, along with the added offensive weapons, receiver Christian Kirk and tight end Evan Engram, Lawrence ought to have more success this year.
There’s plenty of ways to evaluate Lawrence and project him moving forward, and while most young quarterbacks need multiple years to find their path in the NFL, Lawrence ought to be able to find it quicker, given his talent.