JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Pederson has been steadfast in his belief that Trevor Lawrence needs more time to reach his potential.
Pederson wants to see Lawrence in his second season in the same system and with the same coaches and at least some of the same receivers. That notion does little to appease Lawrence’s doubters, who seem to be growing by the week, multiplying with every careless turnover or head-scratching throw.
But Lawrence’s uneven performances — he threw two more costly interceptions in a 21-17 loss to Denver in London on Sunday — are about what Pederson expected from his young quarterback. The coach even hinted at potential struggles before the season.
Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke essentially considered Lawrence a rookie following an 11-month debacle under Urban Meyer in which the head coach and his offensive coordinator rarely agreed on how to best use the former Clemson star. So the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, the one often called a “generational talent,” was mostly starting over in Year 2.
“We still have a lot of trust and a lot of faith in him,” Pederson said. “We’re just going to continue to grow. We’re going to grow together. ... He knows that we’ve got to be better in a few situations, but again, those are really good learning opportunities for Trevor.”
Lawrence completed 18 of 31 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos. He finished with his worst QB rating (52.2) of the season and the third lowest of his career, behind games against Denver and Tennessee in 2021.
Like both of those, Lawrence’s latest stinker featured too many turnovers. He misfired on a first-and-goal rollout from the 1 in the second quarter and threw behind Christian Kirk on first down with 1:43 remaining. Instead of kick-starting a potential winning drive, Lawrence watched Denver run out the clock and celebrate at Wembley Stadium.
The Jaguars (2-6) have lost five in a row heading into Sunday’s home game against the Las Vegas Raiders (2-5).
“Moments like this will make it a lot sweeter when we do turn that corner and we start winning a bunch of games and doing all the things we know we’re capable of here,” Lawrence said. “And I’ve got no doubt that’s going to happen.
“I’ve got to play better, and I’ll leave it at that. I didn’t play well enough to win.”
Jacksonville has 712 yards rushing in its past four games, with second-year pro Travis Etienne becoming the team’s top big-play threat. Etienne gained 156 yards on 24 carries, both career highs, against Denver and scored for the second time in as many weeks. Etienne has 356 yards rushing in three starts, averaging a whopping 7.42 yards a carry.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Lawrence and the Jaguars are flailing in the red zone. After scoring just two touchdowns in five trips inside the 20-yard line last week against the New York Giants, Jacksonville went 1 for 3 in those situations against the Broncos.
The Jags are now tied for 24th in the league, having scored 15 TDs in 30 red zone trips.
Tight end Evan Engram had four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown against Denver, finding the end zone for the first time since signing a one-year, $9 million contract with Jacksonville. He has 29 catches for 231 yards in the past four games.
Pass rusher Josh Allen might be on the trading block even though his production has dipped. The fourth-year pro, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft, has gone four games without a sack and has just three quarterback hits in the span. He had three sacks in the first four weeks of the season and has 23½ in 48 games.
Jacksonville picked up the fifth-year option in Allen’s rookie deal, keeping him under contract through 2023, but his future is far from clear.
Receiver/returner Jamal Agnew (knee) was inactive for the second consecutive week. He was limited in practice last week, but expected to be cleared for more work this week.
13 — Jacksonville is one of 13 NFL teams with a positive points differential (plus-14), but the only one with a sub-.500 record.
End the franchise’s sixth skid of at least five games in the past five years.
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