How’s this for an unfair comparison: In his second season, Patrick Mahomes threw for more than 5,000 yards, winning MVP and leading the Chiefs to the AFC championship. In his second year, now underway, Trevor Lawrence probably won’t do any of that.
Lawrence and Mahomes met in Kansas City on Sunday, a mostly routine 27-17 Kansas City victory. This wasn’t a game that Lawrence will remember a week from now, but it was a game that gave hints that maybe, just maybe, Jacksonville is headed in the right direction.
When you’re buried in a 100-foot-deep hole, it’s going to be awhile before you see daylight, no matter how fast you climb. Lawrence and the Jaguars were in a subterranean pit thanks to the disastrous Urban Meyer regime of 2021, and now they’re just trying to clamber their way out.
Comparing any quarterback to Mahomes is like comparing a middle school performance of “The Wizard of Oz” to a widescreen Marvel movie. The sheer artistry, creativity and brilliance that Mahomes brings to every snap is impossible to replicate, and almost any opposing quarterback is going to be a supporting actor in the Patrick Mahomes Extravaganza, particularly in Kansas City.
Even so, Lawrence shook off an ugly first half and a 20-0 deficit to put together a respectable afternoon – 29-of-40, 259 yards, two touchdowns – that included the kind of quick-strike scoring drives that any team in the same conference as the Chiefs and Buffalo Bills needs to deploy.
The Jags’ reach exceeds their grasp at the moment. Prior to Sunday, all of Jacksonville’s losses were by a one-possession margin. Then again, they’ve still lost seven games now. Prior to Sunday, the Jaguars’ running game ranked seventh in the NFL with 146.8 rushing yards per game … but the passing game ranked 22nd with 230.6 yards per game. One step forward, two steps back.
Sunday, Jacksonville caught Kansas City napping with an onside kick to start the game, but then stalled out 15 yards later. Until they turned a fourth-quarter Mahomes interception into a touchdown, the Jaguars had scored exactly zero points off three Kansas City turnovers. A touchdown that would have drawn Jacksonville within six with more than a quarter left to play was waved off by a penalty, and Lawrence suffered a career-high five sacks.
Still, head coach Doug Pederson has brought stability and structure to a Jaguars offense that last year had neither. Lawrence also has the luxury of Christian Kirk – nine receptions, 105 yards, those two touchdowns – and next year he should have Calvin Ridley to target as well. There are the faintest flickers of hope on the horizon … not much, but a whole lot better than anything Jaguars have had to look forward to in years.
Contact Jay Busbee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.