Jaguars look for Trevor Lawrence to build on performance against Colts

Challenges have come in waves for last year’s No. 1 overall pick but he remains confident

Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up prior to the 2022 Pro Hall of Fame Game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 04, 2022 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) (Nick Cammett, 2022 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars needed to see something positive out of Trevor Lawrence.

And they did.

Can Jacksonville’s second-year quarterback keep that going this week as the red-hot Giants (5-1) head to TIAA Bank Field as one of the league’s biggest surprises this season. Lawrence’s production and development remains one of Doug Pederson’s biggest goals. Jacksonville (2-4) needs Lawrence to play more consistently than he has during an up-and-down adjustment to the NFL. At times, Lawrence has looked like a franchise quarterback. Others, he struggles making even basic throws and turns the ball over too much in make-or-break situations.

But there are encouraging signs, especially his 20 for 22 passing afternoon against the Colts. Lawrence had just 165 yards and a touchdown in the game, but his efficiency was through the roof.

And Lawrence said even during his sometimes challenging adjustment to the NFL, his confidence remains high, even if it has been tough to keep it that way.

“There’s been times it gets a little shaky, and you really have to work through that,” Lawrence said. “Honestly, there were times last year, where you start to question some things. This game really tests you mentally, obviously physically, but mentally especially, really when you’re having not a great year as a team, as a player, as an offense, whatever that may be.

“You really just have to keep that confidence, and I’ve talked about before, where do you get your confidence from? It can’t just be circumstantial. I’m playing well, so that’s why I’m confident. It’s got to be in something bigger than that. I really just believe I’m here for a reason. I’ve had all these opportunities for a reason, and I feel really confident in that. That’s what’s helped me keep pressing forward whether that’s a great game, really bad game, great season, bad season, just continuing to be myself and just trust that.”

Pederson said that Jacksonville did tailor the offense a bit against the Colts to help Lawrence but also shifted things because of what Indianapolis was giving them. But Lawrence had a confidence-building performance in the process.

“A little bit [of adjusting]. Again, it goes back to what the Colts do defensively. They like to keep all eyes on the quarterback and rush four or seven in coverage and sort of rally and keep everything in front, so it’s a matter of staying disciplined,” Pederson said. “And he did that and not only stayed within himself but within the structure of the offense.”

After a strong start and an AFC Offensive Player of the Week following a dominant showing against the Chargers, Lawrence hit a rough spot and regressed. He had five turnovers (four fumbles and an interception) in a 29-21 loss to the Eagles. Lawrence couldn’t get the Jaguars into the end zone in the game that followed, a dismal 13-6 loss to the previously winless Texans.

The Jaguars dialed things back a bit in a Week 6 game against the Colts and watched Lawrence dink and dunk his way to a stellar passing performance. He failed to complete just two passes in that game and had perhaps the best drive of his career to help Jacksonville take the lead with just over two minutes to play. Lawrence said he didn’t think he needed to have a bounce back performance after two bad showings, but he just wanted to be able to get a win.

“I feel like the two weeks prior to that, Philly and Houston, weren’t my best games, and that’s just, every week you’ve got to bounce back no matter if you played well or you didn’t play well,” he said. “That’s kind of how I look at it, so that wasn’t necessarily the thought process at all. It’s just let’s go be as good as we can be this week. Let’s let me be as good as I can be to put us in a position to win.”

That play in crunch time has been absent from Lawrence’s resume. He did lead a game-winning drive last year to beat the Dolphins in London (Matthew Wright’s 53-yard field goal delivered a 23-20 win) but that was more of a game management situation and not an extended drive with Lawrence marching the team down the field.

The drive against Indianapolis was. It went 84 yards in 18 plays and drained more than 12 minutes from the clock. Lawrence hit Christian Kirk for a 4-yard touchdown to put them team up 27-26.

“He was very efficient, 20-of-22 passing, really good in the run game with some of the checks we gave him and really did what we asked him to do. Did a nice job in the fourth quarter leading that drive down to get us the lead late in that game and put us in a position to go ahead and potentially win it. Those are obviously the steps that we need him to take, and that was big in that direction.”

The Giants head to Jacksonville this week as one of the NFL’s biggest surprises.

“It’s a different set of challenges this week. Wink [Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale] does a great job of adjusting personnel, different people in the game, different coverages. Still wants to come out of a one high or single high defense, but he’ll present zone, he’ll present man, then, of course, he’ll blitz you. That’s been his MO,” Pederson said. “It’s still, as a quarterback, you want to stay in rhythm, timing, accuracy, all those things are highly important, and being able to handle the blitz, I think this week is going to be one of the challenges we have as an offense.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.