How to Fix Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence needs to improve in year two; QB needs the right coach to develop

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The Jacksonville Jaguars would like to forget that the 2021 season ever happened. Urban Meyer was a disaster early on and was fired after 13 games while Trevor Lawrence had one of the worst seasons for a rookie quarterback in recent memory. Jacksonville finished with the NFL’s lowest offense and fourth-highest defense in a 3-14 season that leaves the franchise with more questions than answers.

Is Lawrence the franchise’s quarterback in Jacksonville or has his rookie season done more harm than good to his NFL future? Jacksonville has lost 10 seasons in the last 11 years, compiling an abysmal 47-130 record turning that streak (the only team with less than 50 wins). The Jaguars installed a losing culture that Meyer failed to change – and in fact made worse.

Luckily for the Jaguars, they have an opportunity to hit the reset button with a new head coach who still has a talented quarterback in place. The AFC South is one of the worst divisions in football with the Indianapolis Colts facing quarterback uncertainty after the major meltdown (in which the Jaguars played a major role) and the Houston Texans coming to fire their head coach after one season. There is an opportunity for the Jaguars to turn things around quickly.

How can the Jaguars be fixed this time around? The question may be rhetorical, but the culture can change sooner rather than later.

Find a coach who can actually develop Trevor Lawrence

Meyer was the worst influence on Lawrence, responsible for the quarterback who completed just 59.6 percent of his passes for 3,641 yards with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions (71.9 rating) in his rookie season. Among the 31 qualified quarterbacks, Lawrence was 29th in completion percentage, 28th in passing touchdowns, first in thrown interceptions, 31st in yards per attempt (6.0), and 30th in passer rating.

While those numbers are abysmal for a No. 1 overall pick, Lawrence completed 64.7% of his passes for 906 yards with three touchdowns with three interceptions for an 81.9 passer rating — all when Darrell Bevell was interim coach. The Jaguars need to hire a coach who can build a staff and develop Lawrence and get the most out of the talented quarterback in 2022 and beyond.

Doug Pederson or Eric Bieniemy would be an ideal head coach to work with Lawrence and build the right culture in Jacksonville. Both know how to build teams and work with young quarterbacks, making them successful early in their careers. The Jaguars can solve this problem quickly.

Select pass-rusher with overall pick #1

The Jaguars need to get the right No. 1 pick in order to turn this franchise around. While Evan Neal would be a great asset to Lawrence and would improve the Jaguars offensive line immensely, Jacksonville lacked a pass thrower who could reach unnamed quarterback Josh Allen.

Jacksonville finished with just 32 sacks this season, tied for fifth in the NFL. Allen was the only player on the roster with more than seven sacks (and he finished with just 7.5). Allen and Dawuane Smoot also didn’t get much help from their teammates as Jacksonville finished with just 183 pressures on the year – and Allen and Smoot had 100. No player outside of Allen and Smoot did had more than 35 pressures over the year.

Getting to quarterback is paramount in the NFL, and the Jaguars have the opportunity to significantly improve the pass rush with Kayvon Thibodeaux at their disposal. The Jaguars can’t go wrong with Neal or Thibodeaux, but the Oregon defensive end can be an All-Pro in this league for years to come.

A tandem of Thibodeaux and Allen rushing to the edges could set the tone for the Jaguars defense for the next few seasons.

The scheme will help this offensive line

The Jaguars offensive line has starting caliber players, but they weren’t making a difference. Jacksonville has a decision to make with Cam Robinson at left tackle, but he’s a better player in the right scheme. The same can be said with rookie tackle Walker Little, who allowed six pressures on 139 pass blocks at left tackle. Little is a building block of that offensive line for 2022.

Where the Jaguars offensive line struggled was in run blocking. Jacksonville averaged just 103.2 yards per game rushing — 105 per game under Bevell. The numbers didn’t really improve in Bevell’s scheme, and that included the Jaguars rushing 8 yards in Meyer’s last practice performance.

Jacksonville is going to have to find a coach who can create a zone-blocking system that can use Lawrence’s ability on the run and Travis Etienne who wins the ball in spaces B and C. With James Robinson’s status uncertain for the start of year (Achille), the Jaguars will have to rely on Etienne to carry the current game.

This offensive line needs improvement, but a better scheme will help tremendously.

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