By Patrick Mackin IV
In a twist that’s turning heads across the league, the Jacksonville Jaguars are set to captivate NFL fans this upcoming season. Peter King’s recent AFC playoff seed prediction has Jacksonville at the number one seed, a far cry from their years of languishing in mediocrity. If you think that’s just empty hype, consider the evidence. Not only do they have Trevor Lawrence, the quarterbacking sensation, but their roster is also loaded with talent across the board. There’s plenty to unpack here, so let’s dig in.
Colin Cowherd put it best all the way back in May when he indicated that Jacksonville could even outpace the Kansas City Chiefs for the No. 1 seed on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. Given that Jacksonville opens against the Indianapolis Colts and faces the Chiefs in a Week 2 divisional rematch, this season will test their mettle early on.
Fast forward to where we are now in the post-pre-season, and sentiments are echoed from the likes of Jared Dubin of CBS Sports compiled an All-AFC South team, https://picks-s6.cbssports.com/nfl/news/2023-preseason-all-afc-south-team-jaguars-lead-way-behind-trevor-lawrence-and-co-colts-strong-in-trenches/, with Lawrence as the obvious pick at QB.
<img src=”http://Jaguars Preseason Week 3 Game Photos
” alt=”Jacksonville Jaguars” /><img src=”Jaguars Preseason Week 3 Game Photos
” alt=”Jacksonville Jaguars” />Dubin noted, “Lawrence is an ascending star who is getting a new No. 1 receiver dropped into his offense after completing 69.7% of his passes at an average of 7.4 yards per attempt, with 15 touchdowns against just two interceptions over the final nine games of last season. He’s going to smash this year.”
But it’s not just Lawrence. The Jaguars also feature Travis Etienne at running back and wideouts Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk, while Josh Allen, Foyesade Oluokun, and Tyson Campbell make their defense a formidable unit. It’s not hyperbole to say that the Jaguars have all the pieces in place for a serious playoff push.
Head Coach Pederson praised Lawrence’s growth last week, stating, “He’s so much further along, he’s understanding the game, how to play the position the right way.” Pederson described the transformation of Lawrence from his rocky rookie season to now as “night and day.” Lawrence’s quarterback coach Mike McCoy echoes these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of Lawrence’s newfound confidence and leadership ability.
Additionally, Jacksonville has added quality depth to their offensive line, a key component that will help protect their franchise quarterback. While they have dealt with some injuries and medical setbacks, including rookie guard Cooper Hodges and swing tackle Josh Wells, the line remains deep and is poised for a strong 2023 showing.
And then there’s special teams. Jacksonville boasts one of the league’s premier return men in Jamal Agnew. If Agnew stays healthy, he’s a game-changer.
So, how does Jacksonville translate this roster wealth into on-field success? Consistency is key, particularly for players like Josh Allen who have flashed elite talent but need to maintain high performance levels week in and week out. Tyson Campbell, already a top-10 cornerback in the league, will need to continue his upward trajectory for the Jaguars’ defense to remain dominant.
If this team can harness its potential— and that’s a big if— we could be witnessing the start of a new AFC South dynasty. With a well-balanced roster, a prodigious QB, and a tough, skilled defense, the Jaguars are more than capable of justifying their lofty predictions.
Perhaps most tellingly, Coach Pederson himself has expressed unflinching confidence in his squad, particularly in Lawrence. “He’s continuing to grow, continuing to get better and he’s also one of the quarterbacks that’s been in the conversation for one of the top in the AFC, as he should be,” Pederson said. The narrative is clear: the Jacksonville Jaguars are no longer the young upstarts; they’re a force to be reckoned with.
There are many variables that could affect this narrative as the season progresses. Injuries, performance declines, or unforeseen incidents could all disrupt this rosy forecast. However, as it stands now, the Jaguars are a compelling team with a promising future, a truth now reflected in increasingly optimistic predictions. So, should we believe the hype around the Jacksonville Jaguars? Based on all indicators, the answer is a resounding yes.