Following his expected, but overdue anointment as Jacksonville’s starter under center, 2021 No. 1 overall selection Trevor Lawrence didn’t use his final preseason tune-up to relax on the sidelines. Rather, his precision, accuracy, and poise were on display once again, this time at the expense of the Dallas Cowboys.
From the opening whistle, Lawrence was precise in reads with a surgeon-like approach against Dallas’ second-teamers. In just a tick over a quarter's worth of work, Lawrence managed to produce a nice showing, totaling 139 yards through the air while completing 11 of his 12 attempts, a 91% clip.
At 6-foot-6, there aren’t many in football who look as fit to masthead an offense as Lawrence, as his poise, IQ, mobility, and arm arrogance provided a further look into the sole future of Jaguars football following the trade of Gardner Minshew to the Philadelphia Eagles. For the first time all offseason, the bulk of Lawrence’s reps in practice the past week came with the starters, a bewildering fact, but indeed true this far into the summer. Throughout the last few weeks, Lawrence has shown in his reps that he can make plays on the run while delivering the football quickly, and most importantly, on time.
Sunday’s performance against the Cowboys presented the final glimpse of Lawrence before the Jaguars steamroll into their Week 1 matchup in Houston. If it’s any indication of things to come, Lawrence’s adaptation to the NFL game has come at warp speed, and god help the Texans.
Not much went wrong for No. 16, as his connection with Phillip Dorsett on the boundary kicked off what would result in his first professional touchdown pass later in the drive. You couldn’t have dropped his throw in better, as Lawrence’s highly touted ball placement ability was on full display on this 38-yard pitch and catch.
Known primarily as a premier pocket passer with the ability to shred a defense pre-snap, Lawrence’s ability to get out in space on designed boot-action concepts, or creating in space off-schedule proved to be an integral part of his game last week against the New Orleans Saints, but on Sunday, Lawrence remained clean and sturdy within Jacksonville’s pocket. It’s a tale of two skill sets Lawrence must master if he intends to live up to the success expected from a No. 1 overall pick.
On 3rd-and-4 inside the red zone, the Jaguars and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell remained aggressive, presenting the Dallas defense with a 2x2 concept with tight end James O’Shaughnessy in a two-point alignment outside the tackle. From the snap, wideout Pharoh Cooper treads toward the sideline on what looks to be a quick-hitting out-route for a chain-moving completion. However, with a quick pump fake from Lawrence, Cooper turns upfield on a developing wheel route for an easy completion for six. From his feet to his eyes to his touch on the football, Lawrence’s first NFL touchdown pass, albeit in the preseason, showed off all the tools why Jacksonville took him atop the draft.
Footwork, footwork, footwork. I can’t stress enough how important the ability to slide, maneuver, and stay balanced is when operating at quarterback. The fundamental foundation of any sport, Lawrence’s feathery display in the pocket opens up a beautiful throwing lane for the former Clemson standout to connect with Laviska Shenault in the endzone for his second touchdown pass of the half. Just a three-step drop to the public eye, Lawrence’s ability to hitch open his left hip to create a smoother arm angle just moments before the throw is advanced stuff from the first-year signal-caller. Add in his continued ability to pinpoint the football, and the Dallas secondary had zero answers for Lawrence all afternoon long.
With his first preseason in the books, it’s now time to translate what has been an impressive slate of exhibition contests into production under live fire of the regular season. With just two weeks before kick-off, and a lowly Texans team awaiting, Lawrence should have no issue living up to expectations from the opening whistle when Sept. 12 arrives.
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