Will the Jacksonville Jaguars win the AFC South?
By: Tayyib Abu
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the most intriguing teams heading into the 2021 NFL season. The Jags ended the 2020 season with a 1-15 record; they were the worst team in the league. The reward for that abject failure was getting to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The long-haired signal-caller is widely regarded as the most talented quarterback to enter the league since Andrew Luck. Add the hire of serial collegiate winner Urban Meyer as head coach, and the Jags are now in the spotlight on a national level.
The Jags are only four years removed from an appearance in the AFC Championship game. That day Jacksonville went down to Tom Brady’s Patriots. In the subsequent four years, Jacksonville has struggled, especially at the quarterback position. Now they got their quarterback for the future and a marquee head coach. Despite the stiff competition in the division, the Jags could shock the world and go worst, to first. Here’s how.
The Talent of Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence is an incredible talent. The former National Champion heads into Duval County with a glittering array of accolades and performances tucked in his suitcase. Lawrence’s remarkable poise, mechanics and arm talent are all in the elite echelon.
With Deshaun Watson’s likely absence from Houston, it is not a stretch to suggest that Lawrence is the most talented quarterback in the AFC South. Assisting Lawrence is veteran offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The former four-year starter at Wisconsin brings a ton of experience working with some top quarterbacks.
Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford are two of the quarterbacks to work with Bevell. Russell Wilson was a rookie when Bevell first worked with him. Bevell employed a power run game with a healthy dose of play-action, rollouts and bootlegs to use Wilson’s mobility.
Lawrence is another quarterback with excellent mobility. He is graceful on his feet; he dances out of the pocket like a ballet dancer. With Clemson’s Travis Etienne and sophomore back James Robinson in the backfield, Lawrence has help from his running back room.
If Bevell can create a user-friendly offence for Lawrence, the young passer should excel. He goes through his progressions calmly, makes intelligent decisions and diagnoses defensive looks at a good pace. With DJ Chark, Laviska Shainault and free-agent signing Marvin Jones, Lawrence has a decent wideout core.
We saw Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow enjoy brilliant rookie seasons despite a truncated offseason program. With an entire offseason, experienced coaching staff and talent around him, Lawrence could shine. If he plays at a Rookie of The Year level, the Jags could get dragged into contention for the division title.
Urban Meyer holds a controversial history. His various teams’ disciplinary records are a blight on Meyer’s resume. He also comes with a lot of negative baggage surrounding his personality and health issues. Nevertheless, Meyer is one of the most successful college coaches in modern history.
Meyer is a relentless, inspirational, winning machine. People should also ignore the trope that he only won due to the recruiting power of some of the more prominent colleges. His success at Bowling Green and Utah confound the redundant recruiting argument. Some coaches can change things instantly due to being magnetic leaders of men.
Meyer’s created a locker room that gravitates towards him and his coaching staff throughout his college career. The bond between him and his players at Florida was unbreakable. That is highlighted by the fact that Tim Tebow came back to football as a tight end in Jacksonville. That is the esteem and respect that Meyer’s players hold him in.
Due to football’s physical and violent nature, the game is like a war between two rival tribes. The relationship between players and coaches must get built on granite if they are to succeed. Meyer’s team have historically played a physical, intense brand of football. They physically look to dominate teams. The Jags were the doormat of the AFC South last year; to rise and challenge, they must strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
Lastly, Meyer utilizes a spread offence with a lot of emphasis on run-first variations. That may explain the selection of Etienne to work with Lawrence. Meyer is a competent coach with a high level of tactical acumen; the Jags will enter the field every Sunday to compete with the best due to their attitude and game plan.
His offensive philosophy meshes well with Bevell, and it should help them develop Trevor Lawrence into the all-world, all-star quarterback that most expect.
If Meyer ticks the locker room and Lawrence box this season, the Jags could surprise many teams in the AFC. It could even lead them to a potential challenge for the division title.