It’s safe to say Pagano is bullish on the AFC South’s new star quarterback.
The biggest storyline is Trevor Lawrence. We all know what happened in Year 1 for Trevor.
Then, Doug Pederson came in for Year 2, and Lawrence made a quantum leap in all the major statistical categories ... I expect Lawrence to make another huge leap in Year 2 in Pederson’s offense. He’s not even close to his ceiling. This is a super-talented guy. He’s got a great arm.
His supporting cast has a ton of talent. TE Evan Engram just resigned. WR Calvin Ridley is going to be in the mix with receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. Plus, they have Travis Etienne in the backfield. This season, Lawrence will take another leap, maybe 5,000 yards passing, 32 touchdowns with single-digit interceptions.
Lawrence improved at a historic rate with his passer rating spiking from 71.9 in 2021 to 95.2 in 2022; another leap would certainly be needed to reach the numbers Pagano outlined for 2023. Only Patrick Mahomes passed for over 5,000 yards last season, and only Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow passed for over 30 touchdowns.
Pagano also has high expectations for Jacksonville’s other former first-overall pick.
He was the No. 1 overall pick in 2022, and many people said this was a stretch. But if you looked at LB Travon Walker when he was at the University of Georgia, saw the metrics, the skill set and his 6-foot-5, 275 frame, and it starts to make sense. Walker can run like a deer, come off the edge, set the edge in the run game and rush the quarterback.
He didn’t have the season everybody expected him to have in 2022: 3.5 sacks and only 10 quarterback hits. This kid has gone to work. He’s probably going to be in the best shape of his life. He’s added some new tricks and some new moves to his toolbox when rushing the passer.
While Trevor Lawrence and Travon Walker are Pagano’s main storylines on each side of the ball, he expects a full breakout from Calvin Ridley.
You pull up YouTube, watch the NFL Network, whatever you want, and look at this guy’s highlights from training camp. He looks like the Road Runner.
It looks like everybody else is in slow motion, and Ridley is moving at 1,000 miles per hour. In 2020, he had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns — a phenomenal season. In 2021, he was banged up, had to leave the field for personal issues and was suspended in 2022.
Now, he’s got a fresh start with Pederson and company. I expect Ridley to have a huge year for the Jaguars because a lot of attention will go to those other dudes (Kirk, Jones, Engram). Ridley has to have a huge chip on his shoulder, so he will come out swinging. Look for Ridley to have a phenomenal year for Jacksonville.
Ridley certainly has a chip on his shoulder. Press Taylor told media in July, “He just wants to prove that he belongs at the top of this group of receivers across the league. I think that’s important to him.” No. 0 has echoed the same sentiment himself throughout the summer.
There is a ton of momentum down in Jacksonville right now. The Jaguars should win the AFC South and get back to the playoffs again. This is a talented, talented roster.
Pederson’s a Super Bowl-winning coach, and he’s making magic right now. They’re buying into everything he’s saying. I’d hate to see this team in the playoffs if I was an opposing coach.
How do you feel about Pagano’s preview, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!