The Tale of Two Halves - Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars rise from "last to first"
Jacksonville is 1st in the AFC South!
Going into Week 9 of the NFL season, the Jaguars were 30th in the Power Rankings. After the win against the New York Jets, you can very well expect us to be in the Top 10 going into Week 17....that's quite the improvement over the course of 8 weeks.
Let’s take a moment to give thanks to the Houston Texans for beating the Tennessee Titans. I think I can speak for everyone, including Texans fans, we didn’t see that coming, and Jacksonville’s win over the NY Jets on Thursday paired with an early Christmas gift on Saturday propelled us to the top of the AFC South. So Houston, thank you. But we still got work to do.
Trevor Lawrence is the talk around the 904 and with good reason. The 2nd year QB has appeared to finally flip the switch and find some consistency in his game over the last several weeks. Not sure what happened after London but Trevor has found his old self again and is becoming the QB we all hoped he would be.
It’s truly been the tale of 2 halves this season. Opening up with a bad loss against Washington, followed by a couple of dominating wins against the Chargers and the Colts, everything seemed to be pointing up until Jacksonville went on a 5-game losing streak with Trevor Lawrence coughing up the ball more times than he was throwing touchdowns. Was this a mistake? Should we have tanked for this guy? We have a good coach who led the Eagles to a Super Bowl and here we are at 2-6; our star QB showing signs of improvement but still not performing to the high standards of a first-overall pick. Things were not looking good for the Jaguars or Trevor Lawrence as fans were prematurely ready to move on (me included). Trevor was not playing well in the first half of the season but against everyone’s doubts, he’s flipped the script.
Don’t believe me? Let’s have a look.
There is a significant improvement in every major category for a QB, and more importantly an improvement in the winning games category. You must give credit to Head Coach, Doug Pederson as well, anyone paying attention to the Jags knows damn well this turnaround for the team would not have happened with Urban Meyer at the helm and you can argue that Doug Pederson was coming into a situation behind the 8-ball. Not just taking a bad team and trying to improve them and build a winning franchise but coming into a bad team with low morale and low confidence, whose rookie’s growth was stunted in the previous season.
This Jaguars team won 3 games last year and Trevor Lawrence had a whopping 12 Touchdowns and 17 Interceptions. He’s doubled his TDs this year and halved his Interceptions thrown and with a win against the Jets, the Jacksonville Jaguars have now more than doubled their wins from the previous season.
Things didn’t look great for Jacksonville in the first 8 weeks, however. It was looking like, “new coach, new players but same result.” With two wins and a brutal loss to the piss-poor Denver Broncos, I’d be lying if didn’t say I was ready to throw in the towel on the season. Don’t fault me, life as a Jaguars fan has been tough and even now with our 3-game win streak and Trevor’s clear improvement, I’m still skeptical. It’s difficult to break the habit of not trusting the performance of our team because we’ve always been so up and down.
This victory against the NY Jets however has changed my perspective and has given me a bit of hope. We actually won in the spotlight. It always seemed when the media began covering us, we couldn’t win, but on Thursday Night the curse of Elya Yelnats had been lifted.
Trevor Lawrence’s unwavering confidence and Doug Pederson’s unrelenting trust have infected the entire team and that’s being reflected on the field. The team proved they don’t need to put up big points to win, Trevor doesn’t need 3 Touchdown passes to win. The Jaguars can adapt and find ways to win depending on the situation at hand and that to me makes for a strong team.
It's not all perfect in Jacksonville, the team still starts slow; they’ve trailed every 1st quarter since the London game and tied 3-3 against the Jets at the end of 1. They finish strong but as we saw against the Lions, slow starts don’t always lend to the ability to come back and win. But once they put all 4 quarters together, I think this will be a VERY dangerous team and it’s happening in front of our eyes faster than we think.
We lost in a Field goal battle against the Texans earlier in the year and now we have them in front of our home crowd who should be more than fired up this coming weekend for a game with major playoff implications for us and the Texans will have every intention of spoiling it for us. I expect Travis Etienne and Evan Engram to have big games once again.
It's been the tale of two seasons for Trevor Lawrence and the Jags and we now approach the end of this chapter in the hero’s journey. The stakes are high but if the last few weeks have shown anything it’s that Trevor Lawrence and the Jag's defense thrives in those situations. It’s a great time to be a Jaguars fan because this does not appear to be a fluke or flash in the pan situation either. I think the Trevor Lawrence we are seeing is here to stay and only going to improve.
This is Jacksonville’s time for the AFC South.