PFF: Trevor Lawrence and Jaguars' Passing Game Give Reason For Optimism

Could the Jaguars have one of the NFL's more explosive passing games in 2024?
Oct 8, 2023; London United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws the ball against the Buffalo Bills in the second half of an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2023; London United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws the ball against the Buffalo Bills in the second half of an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

Just like most teams in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars will always go as far as their quarterback can take them.

It was true in 2022, when quarterback Trevor Lawrence caught fire at the end of the season and played the best football of his career. It was true in 2023, too, when a healthy Lawrence led the Jaguars to an 8-3 start before an injury-riddled Lawrence contributed to a 1-5 finish.

Lawrence and the Jaguars' passing game is once again the focus in 2024, with Lawrence seeing his receiver room revamped with free agent additions Gabe Davis and Devin Duvernay and first-round wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr.

As a result, Pro Football Focus looked at Lawrence and the Jaguars' passing game as a potential highlight, noting that it was their reason for optimism with the Jaguars this season.

"Lawrence is one of the best deep passers in the league. He now has two serious size-speed threats at wide receiver who can threaten opposing safeties. Former Bill Gabe Davis is coming off a tough season, but he still posted a 99.4 deep receiving grade, ranking ninth in the NFL. The team also drafted Brian Thomas Jr., who led college football in deep receiving grade, 99.9, and deep touchdowns, 12.

Those two vertical threats should make life a lot easier for underneath targets Christian Kirk and Evan Engram. They should also lighten the defensive front for Travis Etienne and an offensive line that ranked dead last in run-blocking grade last year. Jacksonville needed explosive threats to complement Trevor Lawrence’s tremendous arm and create space for everyone around them. They found two this offseason."

Dalton Wasserman, Pro Football Focus

The Jaguars' passing game had sky-high expectations in 2023 after a hot end to 2022 and the addition of wide receiver Calvin Ridley. And while Ridley and tight end Evan Engram put together career years, the Jaguars' passing game as a whole felt off for much of the year and fell short of expectations.

In 2023, the Jaguars' passing game ranked No. 14 in EPA/Play and No. 7 in success rate thanks to an efficient first half of the season. The final six games when the Jaguars went 1-5 saw the Jaguars rank No. 19 and No. 10 respectively; in the 11 games before then, the Jaguars ranked No. 10 and No. 6.

As far as the entire season, the Jaguars finished No. 21 in passing touchdowns, No. 23 in touchdown percentage, No. 9 in yards, No. 13 in yards per attempt, No. 17 on adjusted yards per attempt, No. 16 in net yards per pass attempt and No. 16 in adjusted net yards per pass attempt.

In short, what was expected to be one of the best passing games in the NFL felt like a work in progress. Now, Lawrence will be entering his third year in the system with a new pair of weapons at wide receiver. The combination of Gabe Davis and Brian Thomas Jr. would indicate a philosophical change for the Jaguars, especially in terms of the pass-catcher's stylistic fits with Lawrence.

"I think just that full-on ownership of our system. He understands what we're trying to accomplish in the off-season of putting in plays. So, he understand we're putting in our schemes," Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor said last month. "We're in install four now, the defense is install four. These plays aren't aligned to we're attacking a certain coverage. You're seeing a little bit of growth of he is quick to find a check down and move on in a progression, because this isn't the coverage this is built for.

"So, you see a little bit of that, and then you see the way he communicates with the guys around him. Hey, I need you at this depth on this spot on this timing because I'm getting to you as the fourth or third or first read, so I need a little bit more. It's kind of trying to get him to take over more and more and more. I think that's coming naturally for him. Personally, year three in the system, year four in the NFL working with young guys around him. Understanding what communication each guy needs is a big part of playing quarterback."



Published |Modified
John Shipley

JOHN SHIPLEY

John Shipley has been covering the Jacksonville Jaguars as a beat reporter and publisher of Jaguar Report since 2019. Previously, he covered UCF's undefeated season as a beat reporter for NSM.Today, covered high school prep sports in Central Florida, and covered local sports and news for the Palatka Daily News. Follow John Shipley on Twitter at @_john_shipley.