Pederson brought in a version of the West Coast offense that he has tweaked and refined from his time as a player under Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid. The quarterback-friendly system features a handful of base concepts that can be executed from multiple formations and personnel groupings. By keeping reads the same for the quarterback while incorporating different players into concepts, Pederson makes the offense appear complex to defenses and simple to his trigger man. You can’t pull that off, though, without the right weaponry in the passing game.
The lifeblood of Pederson’s aerial attack is Jacksonville’s veteran receiving corps, which offers the experience, versatility and adaptability necessary to run these concepts. Marvin Jones Jr., Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram are interchangeable pass catchers with the route-running skills and overall awareness to align anywhere on the field. With each player comfortable playing in the slot or out wide, the Jags have the ability to change the picture for the defense while keeping Lawrence comfortable with his reads.
Despite widespread lampooning of Jacksonville’s offseason spending spree on pass catchers, Kirk (four years, $72 million), Zay Jones (three years, $24 million) and Engram (one year, $9 million) have provided immediate return on investment. Through three games, Lawrence has evenly distributed the ball to an experienced quartet of pass catchers:
- Christian Kirk: 18 receptions for 267 yards (14.8 yards per catch) and three TDs.
- Zay Jones: 19 receptions for 173 yards (9.1 ypc) and one TD.
- Marvin Jones Jr.: 11 receptions for 104 yards (9.5 ypc) and one TD.
- Evan Engram: 12 receptions for 83 yards (6.9 ypc).
With Jacksonville utilizing a number of quick passes, screens and bootlegs, Lawrence has been able to become a more efficient and effective passer. His completion percentage (69.4), passer rating (103.1) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (6:1) are all significantly better than his rookie figures (59.6 completion percentage, 71.9 passer rating, 12:17 TD-to-INT ratio ). This immense improvement has sparked a Jaguars offense that currently ranks seventh in scoring (up from dead last in 2022) and sixth in total yards (up from 27th). The Jags have nine drives of at least 10 plays, which is tops in the NFL. They’ve also converted four fourth-down conversions (tied for third), surrendered just two sacks (tied with the Chiefs for No. 1) and controlled the ball for an average of 34:35 minutes per game (tied for second). Jacksonville wears down opponents with a “half-court offense” that challenges the discipline and awareness of defenders.
As the Jaguars’ offensive line has jelled, with a mix of veterans and newbies coming together, the protection and overall physicality of the unit has played a key role in Lawrence’s development. Defenses must respect Jacksonville’s ruggedness, particularly in the James Robinson-led ground game, which opens up the field for play-action passes. In addition, the offense’s physical mentality has helped Lawrence play with the edge of a franchise quarterback.
Given his success as a championship field general at the high school and collegiate levels, Lawrence entered the league knowing how to win — but he needed to be placed in an environment that set him up for success. Pederson’s experience as a Super Bowl champion (player and coach) has provided the young quarterback with a mentor who knows what a true contender must look like between the lines.
With the new head coach placing the three Ps around a talented young quarterback with five-star tools, the Jaguars head into a big Week 4 game at Philadelphia as an upstart squad in first place of a winnable division. The season is young, but Jacksonville’s future looks exponentially brighter than it did one year ago.