It appears all Trevor Lawrence really needed was a real NFL head coach.
He certainly has one now in former Eagles head coach and Super Bowl champion Doug Pederson. The early results are striking: In three games this season, Lawrence is No. 6 in the NFL in passing percentage (69.4, completing 77/111 for 772 yards, six touchdowns and one interception), and he’s beginning to show why he was the No. 1 overall selection by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Overall last year, when Lawrence was stuck in the dysfunctional coaching world of Urban Meyer, who directed the Jags to a 3-14 finish and probably stunted Lawrence’s growth, he didn’t complete his sixth touchdown pass until the fifth game of 2021—all Jacksonville losses, which were no doubt helped by his eight interceptions.
The version Lawrence that was expected to appear last year has surfaced now. He’s doing things no other Jacksonville player has achieved in decades—like winning AFC Offensive Player of the Week, the first Jaguars’ offensive player to do so since quarterback David Garrard in 2010.
In winning the first road game of his career, Lawrence completed 28 of 39 for 262 yards, which translated into a 71.8 completion percentage, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and averaging 6.7 yards a completion in the Jags’ thorough 38-10 drubbing of the banged-up Los Angeles Chargers.
“He’s playing fast. We watched some games last year; he may not have played as fast. I don’t really know why,” Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said about Lawrence. “I think he’s processing at a high level. He’s very accurate, has a big arm, he’s athletic. He’s tall. He can see. That’s why I always see, when you watch the tape of him, certain quarterbacks play real fast. He’s one of those guys.
“Like I said, we have to be on it.”
Add Lawrence’s proficiency with a Pederson offense and it could spell the first adversity the Eagles’ defense will face this season.
Lawrence is very good on first and second down. Third down he’s not as effective, completing 18 of 31 for 159 yards and it produced the only two times Lawrence has been sacked this season.
“This is a good offense,” Gannon said of Jacksonville. “I have a very high opinion of Doug. He’s a very good play-caller. He doesn’t have a lot of tendencies. You can’t bank on certain things coming. He’s doing a good job with the quarterback playing extremely fast. He has weapons. They protect him. You have to be aware of their skill guys because their skill guys have very significant skill sets. It’s just like everybody, you have to know your opponent because they do some things with those guys that he allows those guys to play free. He puts them in good spots. They make a lot of plays. We have a big-time test ahead of us.
“We play what we play. You have to be in the right spot and play with good technique and have your eyes disciplined versus this team. It always comes down to out-executing your opponent and playing the way we want to play. I always say to our defense, ‘Don’t get it twisted, the game is about hitting on defense.’ I’ve thought we’ve been a pretty good physical unit. We want to still keep working at that, but you don’t want leaky yardage, you want to affect the quarterback, hit people when you can hit them legally, have a lot of people at the ball. That’s what we’ll preach to our guys.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written features for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, and his breaking story on Carson Wentz for PhillyVoice on January 21, 2019. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.