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Evaluation | Doug Pederson has unlocked Trevor Lawrence, and the Jags are a risk


Doug Pederson has unlocked Trevor Lawrence, and the Jacksonville Jaguars is likely to be headed to the postseason due to it.

The primary choose of the 2021 draft is now trying the half, by no means extra so than when carving up the vaunted Dallas Cowboys protection Sunday. It has some good folks across the league considering Jacksonville goes to be the final crew standing within the AFC South.

Jacksonville (6-8) nonetheless has its flaws, particularly on protection, however I predicted on this house a number of weeks again that the Jags would make issues fascinating on this woeful division. Most of their metrics indicated they have been much less flawed than the flailing Tennessee Titans, who’ve misplaced 4 straight to fall to 7-7, and now the Jags have a head-to-head win over Tennessee working of their favor, too. They’ve the AFC’s premier power of victory (.530) after pulling a surprising comeback on the Cowboys, and they’re 5-4 within the convention. They’re additionally 4-2 of their previous six, with wins over the Baltimore Ravens (9-5), Titans and Cowboys (10-4), plus a strong outing in opposition to the Chiefs. (Their different loss in that stretch was to the Lions, who’re in some ways the Jags of the NFC and a crew no favourite would need to face proper now.)

“That’s the most effective crew in that division,” stated one AFC GM who’s holding a detailed eye on the postseason race and who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of he isn’t licensed to debate different groups. “Doug was precisely what the quarterback wanted.”

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Since Week 9, Lawrence has the highest passer ranking within the NFL (111.2) and his 14 landing passes are behind solely Patrick Mahomes’s 15, however Lawrence has only one interception in that span. (Mahomes has six!) For a lot of his profession — and particularly the primary half of this season — Lawrence tended to wilt within the fourth quarter. However he dominated late in wins over the Ravens and Cowboys regardless of massive deficits, and up to now six weeks he has a sterling 118.5 ranking within the fourth quarter and additional time, when he’s finishing a whopping 76 % of his passes.

The Jaguars drew scoffs from rival execs for giving receiver Christian Kirk $37 million totally assured in free company, however far much less was fabricated from their astute signing of Zay Jones (primarily two years and $16 million) or tight finish Evan Engram (one yr at $9 million). They’ve been integral to Lawrence’s growth, and powerful worth performs. Jones ranks within the prime 15 amongst all huge receivers in receptions and touchdowns since Week 9, whereas Kirk is tied for eleventh in receiving yards on the season and Engram is fifth in receiving yards amongst tight ends. (He’s additionally tied for third in receptions and tied for sixth in landing catches.)

“They bought Lawrence what he wanted,” the GM stated, “however they took numerous s— for it. Even the Kirk contract doesn’t look as unhealthy after the receiver market went nuts.”

The Jags face a troublesome protection Thursday night time within the Jets, then get the one-win Texans (who received the primary assembly) earlier than a rematch with Tennessee in Jacksonville. The Titans face the Texans and Cowboys. This is likely to be the closest we get to division title intrigue this season.

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Keep watch over the Jets’ entrance workplace

Jets proprietor Woody Johnson didn’t rent Coach Robert Saleh; Johnson’s brother Chris did whereas Johnson was serving an envoy function oversees. And there have lengthy been rumblings about how nicely the coach and proprietor have linked.

That chatter has solely amplified in latest weeks throughout the Jets’ slide to 7-7. New York has overachieved this season, and Saleh, a former defensive coordinator, has gotten nice returns from that aspect of the ball. Nonetheless, the entrance workplace dynamic is price monitoring. I proceed to listen to that Woody Johnson and Saleh aren’t the best persona match and that the coach generally rubs the hands-on proprietor the unsuitable method. And a few league executives can’t assist however marvel, if the underside falls out from a crew that was as soon as 6-3, whether or not Johnson would possibly develop a minimum of considerably stressed, with the latest quarterback juggling solely amplifying issues.

“They’ve by no means actually clicked, and it’s at all times been a little bit awkward between them,” stated one GM, who isn’t at liberty to talk publicly about different organizations. “From what I hear, they’ve by no means actually jelled. It’s not an ideal match.”

A QB quandary in New England?

Multiple personnel government I’ve talked with expressed skepticism about Mac Jones this week: “He’s not the man,” one GM stated after watching Jones wrestle once more Sunday, finishing 13 of 31 passes for 112 yards in opposition to the lowly Las Vegas Raiders. The New England quarterback missed straightforward throws repeatedly, and whereas offensive coordinator Matt Patricia is poor, it’s onerous to not see what rookie Bailey Zappe did in his transient stint on this offense and marvel if he deserves one other look. An evaluator I belief prompt I examine Zappe’s transient pattern with that of San Francisco 49ers rookie Brock Purdy, who has taken the league by storm. Zappe doesn’t profit from attending to work with Kyle Shanahan and that loaded offensive solid, which made this all of the extra gorgeous:

Bailey Zappe: 65 for 92 (70.7 %) for 781 yards; 8.5 yards per try; 5 touchdowns to 3 interceptions; a 100.9 ranking with 14 passes of 20 yards or extra; and 40.2 % of passes going for a primary down

Brock Purdy: 62 for 93 (66.7 %) for 678 yards; 7.3 yards per try; six touchdowns to 2 interceptions; a 100.6 ranking with eight passes of 20 yards or extra; and 35.5 % of passes going for a primary down

Jones is twenty ninth within the NFL with a ranking of 82.6; a lot of the certified passers clustered round him have misplaced their jobs for aggressive causes, together with Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Davis Mills, Baker Mayfield and Zach Wilson. Maybe Jones ought to be subsequent.

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Notes from across the league

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will in all probability nonetheless win the NFC South, I assume, after which Tom Brady will transfer on. Coach Todd Bowles will in all probability be protected so long as Tampa Bay reaches the playoffs and doesn’t completely crumble, however workers modifications are imminent.

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has resisted making main modifications and didn’t actually begin to embrace extra movement, shifting and early-down play-action till Sunday, and that also resulted in an embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals through which the offense was stagnant for a lot of the day. It could be a serious shock if Leftwich was again subsequent season. …

Just lately fired Titans common supervisor Jon Robinson is nicely regarded within the league, and a few of his friends anticipate he’ll find yourself in one of many Bays subsequent yr. He has robust ties to Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht from their time in New England, and one personnel government famous Inexperienced Bay is one other potential vacation spot. “Gutey” — Packers Normal Supervisor Brian Gutekunst — “is his boy,” the exec stated. GMs I’ve spoken to are far much less satisfied Cardinals GM Steve Keim, on what the crew known as a health-related depart of absence, resurfaces in a high-profile job of any kind. …

The operating again market is at all times suppressed in free company, however one may argue that no 2019 first-round draft choose will profit extra from not having his fifth-year possibility executed — and thus hitting the open market in March — than Josh Jacobs. He carried the Raiders’ offense once more in Week 15 and has proved sturdy and dynamic, and the 2023 free agent class is brief on offensive firepower, which ought to work in his favor. Jacobs leads the NFL in scrimmage yards with 1,858 — almost 200 greater than Derrick Henry, who ranks second — and is tied for ninth with 11 touchdowns. Jacobs additionally leads the league with 1,495 speeding yards — once more, almost 200 greater than Henry — with a stellar common of 5.14 yards per carry. Jacobs doesn’t flip 25 till February.



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