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Jaguars Training Camp Preview: Quarterback

What did the Jaguars do at quarterback this offseason and what could it mean moving forward?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a few weeks away from kicking off Doug Pederson's first training camp at the helm, giving us plenty of time to take a look at each of the team's position groups before the 2022 season. 

Jacksonville wasn't afraid to make a number of big moves on both sides of the ball this offseason, both via the free agency and the draft. Now, they have a new-look roster that contrasts in a big way from the roster we saw the team field in Week 1 in 2021.

First up: the quarterback position. What does it look like today, what changes did the Jaguars make and what needs to be addressed ahead of camp? 

The depth chart

Trevor Lawrence

Age/Experience: 22/second season.

2021 stats: 

  • 359 completions on 602 attempts (59.6%)
  • 3,641 yards (6.0 yards per attempt) 
  • 12 touchdowns (2% touchdown rate)
  • 17 interceptions (2.8% interception rate)
  • 5.2 adjusted yards per completion
  • 5.37 net yards gained per pass attempt
  • 4.54 adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt
  • 71.9 passer rating
  • 33.5 QBR
  • Sacked 32 times for 238 yards (5% sack rate)

Lawrence didn't have the rookie season many expected after he was touted as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. He finished near the bottom of most metrics among starting quarterbacks outside of sack rate, though he did show impressive flashes throughout the year while navigating the Jaguars on and off the field during the disastrous Urban Meyer experiment.

Lawrence's development was one of the key aspects of the Jaguars' head coach search following the firing of Meyer. The Jaguars looked at both defensive and offensive coaches, but it was clear the Jaguars wanted a coach who could develop Lawrence after showing interest in Doug Pederson, Byron Leftwich and Nathaniel Hackett. 

Lawrence will be tasked with showing improvement in year two under Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor. The Jaguars saw Lawrence take a step forward in his second spring with the team, showing more balanced accuracy and overall better decision-making throughout OTAs. 

The question now is whether Lawrence can take the next step and turn his physical tools into a more ceberal signal-caller. He showed the signs of being able to do so this spring, but we won't truly know about his development and its progress until we see him in Week 1 against Washington and in the subsequent weeks beyond that.

CJ Beathard

Age/Experience: 28/sixth season.

2021 stats: 

  • 2 completions on 2 attempts (100%)
  • 33 yards (16.5 yards per attempt)
  • 0 touchdowns
  • 0 interceptions
  • 16.5 adjusted yards per completion
  • 16.5 net yards gained per pass attempt
  • 16.5 adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt
  • 118.7 passer rating
  • 90.3 QBR

The Jaguars made things a little clear how they felt about Gardner Minshew last offseason when they signed CJ Beathard to a two-year, $5 million deal last offseason. Beathard was always expected to be the Jaguars' No. 2 quarterback behind Lawrence and he was exactly that as the Jaguars' backup last year, providing Lawrence with a key veteran mentor.

Beathard got limited time on the field in 2021, attempting just two passes when Lawrence was off the field for a drive in Week 9 vs. the Buffalo Bills. He completed both passes and also impressed in the preseason, fairly beating out Minshew for the No. 2 job before Minshew was traded.

“The one thing with C.J., he’s played games, he’s started games in this league, and I think that’s valuable. C.J. has the mentality and I think he has the right mentality right now as a backup quarterback where there’s not that threat to Trevor," Pederson said about Beathard at the start of OTAs. "It’s not like he’s out there making an agenda for C.J. He’s a team player and he’s on board. You see it out on the grass, or you see it in the classroom where those two are having really good dialogue back and forth and open communication, and that’s really what it takes.

"I think about my days in Green Bay with [former Packers QB] Brett [Favre]. Not that I was going to threaten Brett’s job, but just having the communication of another set of eyes for the starter, that’s what you have to have. It was Nick Foles with Carson Wentz a few years back [in Philadelphia]. I think those combinations are really good for the starter and it kind of calms the starter down a little bit where Trevor can just focus on his job knowing he has the support of the backup."

Beathard did face a scary injury during OTAs, getting carted off of the field following a groin injury. Beathard was able to get a positive prognosis on the injury however, with Pederson saying at the end of OTAs that Beathard would be available for training camp.

"Again, [it’s an injury in the] lower body, groin area and he should be okay for training camp. We’ll just wait and see as it progresses over the summer," Pederson said.

Jake Luton

Age/Experience: 26/third season.

2021 stats: N/A.

Drafted by the Jaguars as a sixth-round pick in 2020 (No. 189), Luton got three starts as a rookie in Jacksonville. He faced a tough situation as a rookie quarterback on a 1-15 Jaguars team, going 0-3 as a starter and completing 54.5% of his passes for 624 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns with six interceptions.

Luton didn't make the Jaguars' roster in 2021, instead spending time with the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins on their practice squads. This offseason, the Jaguars signed Luton back to the roster via a reserve/futures contract, bringing Luton back to Jacksonville and giving him a chance to compete for the No. 3 quarterback job.

"I like Jake [Luton]. I’ve always liked Jake," Pederson said during OTAs.

"He definitely gives you value and competition at that position and he’s just a great guy, a great guy in the locker room, and [I’m] just looking forward to when we really do this thing for real in training camp and see how he does.”

EJ Perry (R)

Age/Experience: 24/first season.

2021 stats: N/A.

The Jaguars were aggressive to add EJ Perry as an undrafted free agent this spring following April's draft. The former Boston College transfer and star quarterback at Brown was originally set to be a Philadelphia Eagle, but ended up with the Jaguars after the Eagles signed Carson Strong in undrafted free agency.

The Jaguars signed Perry to an undrafted rookie deal with $230,000 in guaranteed money and a $23,000 signing bonus. Perry received the second-largest guaranteed contract among undrafted quarterbacks, with only Carson Strong of the Philidelphia Eagles receiving more ($320k). 

Among all undrafted free agents, Perry received the third-most guaranteed money and the same amount as fellow Jags signee Kevin Austin, one of the biggest names to sign in undrafted free agency in the whole league.

"Again, the quarterback position, I’ve always sort of adopted the philosophy of if you can find a guy that can come in, whether he’s your third or your fourth guy, and add the competition, add the value, I keep bringing that up, but that’s what we do," Pederson said this offseason when asked about being aggressive to acquire Perry.

"When you can get a guy like him in here, we loved his tape. He was a guy that we even had [Quarterbacks Coach] Mike McCoy, [Assistant Quarterbacks Coach] Andrew Breiner, some of my assistant coaches talk to prior to the draft and had some meeting time with him and just get to know him a little bit. Then we were fortunate to get him and get him in here and get him going.”

How the room changed this offseason

The biggest change to the Jaguars' quarterback room this year is how the passers are going to be coached. The Jaguars did add Luton and Perry as a reserve/futures contract player and undrafted free agent, but most importantly the Jaguars added quarterback specialists to their coaching staff in Pederson, Taylor and quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy.

The Jaguars had a pair of experienced coaches last year in Darrell Bevell and Brian Schottenheimer, but it is undisputable that Pederson serves as a better resource and sounding board for the quarterback room than Meyer did. Add in Pederson's comfort and relationship with Taylor, and the Jaguars' quarterback room is seeing a brand-new synergy and philosophy coming from the top. 

 “Oh yeah. I think you can always tell the way a coach communicates with a quarterback because he’s been in my shoes. Quarterback’s an interesting position. It’s not a big rah-rah, chew somebody out. I mean you have some coaches that are like that but for me, that’s just not what I need," Trevor Lawrence said during OTAs. 

"I can have a conversation and [Head Coach] Coach [Doug] Pederson’s great about that. At every play, he gives you a piece of feedback that another coach might not give you just because he knows what it’s like and it’s something little that he might see that someone else doesn’t see. Having the head coach be able to step in, even today a couple times, three or four times, after a play, he’ll come over and give me a little tip or whatever. Just having a head coach that can do that and really, really knows what he’s talking about is cool.”

The biggest storyline surrounding the group following the offseason

The biggest question facing the Jaguars' quarterback room following the spring is undoubtedly Lawrence's development. Just how much Lawrence has progressed, how much further he has to go and how fast he can get there are all question marks surrounding not just the quarterback room, but the entire offense and team.

“It’s good to get our hands on him, get to work with him, get to sit in meetings, kind of hear how he sees things, what he likes, what he doesn’t like, all those conversations that you really don’t know until you get to get out there with him and see him do it live again," Press Taylor said this spring. 

"He gets a rep; he comes over and talks about it. So, it was a great experience and there was a lot to build on as we go with what we got accomplished this spring.”

The Jaguars are clearly pleased with what they saw from Lawrence this offseason. Now, the next test is taking his game to an even higher level when camp opens and he gets to face more live action each day.