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Let’s appreciate Trevor Lawrence (and sparklers)

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hello reader, my name is Gus Logue and I contribute to Big Cat Country now.

I write about the Jacksonville Jaguars because I root for the team, but more so because I like learning about football and want to help other fans also understand the game more better. (I also dabble in Sunny references.)

Having a better understanding of the game makes any sport more enjoyable, and a perfect example of that is present-day Trevor Lawrence. We can all agree that the former first overall pick had an underwhelming rookie campaign. But taking a closer look at what actually occurs on every play can help us appreciate Lawrence’s game and the potential he offers—even if current results aren’t looking too hot.

Jacksonville fans are used to wincing every time a defender raises his hands with the ball in mid-flight. It was fair to assume that Jaguars quarterbacks from the past were taking a risk by throwing ahead of the sticks, but Lawrence is different.

On second-and-7 early in the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the offense lined up in a 3x1 nub set. It’s an alignment brought to recent league wide popularity (thanks in part to Doug Pederson’s former boss Andy Reid) for its various matchup and middle-of-the-field opportunities.

Lawrence’s pre-snap read of the Steelers defense was fairly easy: the single-high safety (#34) indicated Cover 1 man or Cover 3 zone coverage; and though the strongside corner (#29) stepped forward to give Lawrence the implication of tight man coverage, his open hips were a dead giveaway that he’d be dropping into leftfield as a deep zone defender.

Here’s a very basic drawing of the coverage shell Pittsburgh ended up running: Cover 3 Sky with three deep defenders and four underneath. (“S” because the down safety spills to one of the two curl-flat zones- in this case, top right.)

That’s the easy part. Things got fun when the nickel corner (#20) crept up to the line of scrimmage to hint at a slot blitz, though he was actually responsible for the other flat (bottom right circle in picture). Lawrence not only called his bluff but directly challenged him by throwing the ball in the area he knew he’d be headed based on the pre-snap read.

There’s a lot going on before and during this five-second play. But the best part came after the whistle, when Lawrence finger-wagged towards the Steelers corner as if to say...

“That won’t work against me, bitch.”

We’re not watching Uncle Rico prance around the pocket anymore—this is grown man football.

You could nitpick and say that Lawrence got lucky because the defender ran into Laviska Shenault. You could even ignore the intelligence, patience, poise, arm strength, and ball placement that are all on display with this single play. You could stop me from going on and on about how this single 14-yard completion has mind-breaking implications in terms of problems it causes for opposing defenses, like how slot corners now ha-

The point is that if you look closely, whether it is the high-level quarterback traits or instead the games within the game or even just the on-the-field swagger, it’s easy to appreciate Trevor Lawrence.

I get that it’s probably exhausting to hear about how great your team’s quarterback is without seeing many fireworks on the field in real time. But for the sake of your own happiness (especially if you’re like me and that revolves around the team’s win-loss column far more than it should) try to appreciate the sparklers.

This is just the beginning of the show that is Lawrence’s career in Jacksonville.