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Trevor Lawrence now playing like the star we expected: How good can he and Jaguars be this season?

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Pop Quiz – Which NFL team ranks second in point difference through Sunday of week 3? This will surprise you.

Jacksonville Jaguars at +46. Yes, believe me. This is true.

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Doug Pedersen’s club is the only team in AFC South to have multiple victories and have outperformed rivals 62-10 in the last eight quarters. We’re talking Jaguars, folks. Franchise with one winning season since 2007. This is an important event in the NFL.

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In this rare Jacksonville dominance, two interconnected events stand out more than anything else – the best coaching that helped Trevor Lawrence noticeably mature.

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And this maturation did not come at the expense of an increase in large-scale throws and brilliant displays of his ridiculous hand talent and natural abilities. While Lawrence reminded us so often why he was the most hyped quarterback prospect in the last decade, it was mostly down to his methodical offense.

You see, last season Lawrence struggled to get what the defense gave him, and even as he went the safer and more efficient route, he missed too many downtimes. For three events this year, his style of play was reversed, and those layups didn’t clatter against the front of the iron as often. Lawrence completes 68.1% of his passes for a respectable 7.1 yards per try with six touchdowns and one interception. The Jaguars have two wins – five touchdowns, no picks, a 76.8% completion rate and no sacks.

I like that Jacksonville didn’t rely too much on the offensive star either. There are four Jags with at least 10 receptions, and James Robinson and Travis Etienne both average over 4.2 yards per throw.

Last season, 36.3% of Lawrence’s passes were completed in 2.4 seconds or less. To date this season? It has almost 49% in this stat category. Amazing inconsistency.

Now, while I may have surprised you with a point differential nugget, you didn’t need this article to know the Jaguars’ record or that they destroyed the Chargers in Week 3.

What are you, like many other football fans, asking yourself today: “Are the Jaguars really good?”

My answer: They are close.

Okay, that’s nonsense, I admit it. But all indications are that it’s not only Pedersen’s influence on the attacking formation and Lawrence’s improvement, but that this team has not only won more games than they’ve lost, but is slowly moving towards having real stamina.

Context is often lost in today’s world of the most popular sports media, but it won’t be here. The Chargers were without Keenan Allen, JC Jackson and Corey Linsley and lost Joey Boza and Rashawn Slater during a game in which Justin Herbert’s availability due to rib injuries was decided minutes before kickoff. This was not even close to Los Angeles in full force.

This must be taken into account, and it makes the victory less bright. But it’s not that relatively healthy Jaguars slithered by. They cruised. It was, without a doubt, a 28-point victory at the home of the Chargers.

The victory was the common work of the team. Jacksonville currently ranks eighth in defensive pressure at 32.3%. The minor Jaguars are one of 15 clubs to have had a yards per try average of less than 7.0 by October, and one of 14 teams to have dropped pressure below 30%. These are all signs of a strong offensive and defensive front, the low-key backbone of every NFL team.

The Jags have allowed more than 20-plus yards (12) to play on offense (11) and are essentially in the middle of the group—or close to it—in those categories.

But remember, however, that no one expected anything special from the Jaguars this season. Being “mid-deck” is a win for this franchise in 2022. And being a sneaky wildcard opponent doesn’t require the team to be fantastic at all stages.

I’ll end there – in a diluted AFC South, it wouldn’t be delusional or unrealistic to suggest that Jacksonville is a serious player for the division crown at the end of the regular season. And, based on preseason expectations, that would be as amazing as the Jaguars having the second-best points difference in the NFL in three weeks.


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