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Why Trevor Lawrence is Poised to Breakout in 2022

The second-year quarterback has his doubters and supporters ahead of his second season, but there is a simple reason why he is poised to have a positive year.

What kind of year is Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence poised to have in 2022?  

That is the question on the minds of all of those with their eyes on the Jaguars this season. Whether is is Jacksonville faithful in the stands or inside TIAA Bank Field or football analysts across the country who are closely watching Lawrence after his down rookie year in 2021, Lawrence has plenty of attention on him entering his second season.

"I think it’s important to just kind of learn from last year and always not necessarily think about that all the time, you don’t want to think about the bad things, but you want to use what you learned and not make the same mistakes especially as individuals, as players," Lawrence said in April 

"Things that went right, went wrong, we all have things we can get better at. For me, I learned so much I wouldn’t say it’s like starting over because I’m thankful for those things I learned. I don’t want to start over. I want to keep those in my back pocket. So, stuff like that, I think it’s a good way to look at it and I think guys are doing that.”

There was plenty that went wrong in Jacksonville in 2021, with Urban Meyer's tenure lasting shorter than a full season and Lawrence throwing 12 touchdowns in 17 starts. A year like that has led to the arguments from some like NBC Sports' Chris Simms, who has a less than enthusiastic outlook on Lawrence entering 2022.

There was also a lot that went right for Lawrence. While he struggled on the stat sheet, the rookie quarterback and No. 1 pick flashed the high-level arm talent and cerebral play-style that earned him the label of a generational prospect, with some seeing him as one of the NFL's brightest young stars.

So, which Lawrence will the Jaguars and NFL get in 2022? What does the evidence suggest, and which seems like the most likely scenario?

Even despite the staggeringly low production from a year ago, there are factors that point toward Lawrence trending closer to a breakout candidate than a disappointing player in 2022.

For one, Lawrence flashed certain traits as a rookie quarterback that suggested he is further along than some of his fellow 2021 counterparts. Among those traits was Lawrence's ability to manage the pocket and navigate pressure, a trait many rookie quarterbacks struggle with.

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Despite the Jaguars having a below-average offensive line in 2021, Lawrence had the best sack production of any rookie passer. He was sacked 32 times in 17 games -- the second-fewest sacks any rookie quarterback with double-digit starts took in 2021, even though he had 79 more pass attempts than the next closest passer. 

The number that truly does Lawrence justice is sack percentage. Sack percentage normally directly correlates to a quarterback's ability to keep the offense ahead of schedule and out of negative situations, and no rookie passer had the sack percentage production of Lawrence.

Trevor LawrenceMac JonesDavis MillsZach WilsonJustin FieldsTrey Lance

Attempts

602

521

394

383

270

71

Sacks

32

28

31

44

36

4

Sack %

5%

5.1%

7.3%

10.3%

11.8%

5.3%

Lawrence's struggles in 2021 can't be denied; he had the worst touchdown percentage and adjusted yards per attempt of any rookie quarterback. But the fact he graded out so well in a stat as important as the sack percentage figure is a good sign for Lawrence's development. It is a trait that many quarterbacks struggle with even as they play well, but it is an area Lawrence has already figured out at his worst.

Then there is another key factor when projecting what Lawrence may look like in 2022: the Urban Meyer factor. 

There is no other way of saying it. Meyer was the worst head coach in the NFL last year and one of the worst in NFL history. Entrusting him with Lawrence's development was clearly a mistake of indescribable magnitude. The Jaguars looked like the worst-coached team on the field each week throughout Meyer's tenure, with the offense looking especially disjointed from a schematic and talent perspective. 

No other rookie quarterback had Meyer leading them in 2021, while none other also had Carlos Hyde and Tavon Austin playing significant snaps at the skill positions. No, the Jaguars are not the NFL's most talented offensive roster in 2022, but the additions of Christian Kirk and Evan Engram are at least two tangible upgrades, while going from Meyer to Doug Pederson is reason enough to buy into Lawrence. 

Will Lawrence's production match his talent in 2022? It is too early to say. The Jaguars still have questions along the offensive line and at the skill positions, but there is no denying they are at a better place now than they were last year, and that is just from a talent perspective. 

Lawrence may not meet the expectations some have for him, but there are far more reasons to buy into him taking a step forward than there are to bet against him. Perhaps he doesn't have a Justin Herbert-level season, but there are reasons to predict a Lawrence breakout -- more reasons than there are to predict a Lawrence let-down.