JACKSONVILLE – In the first of a series on the 2023 season, senior writer John Oehser examines the best moments for the Jaguars' quarterbacks in their 9-8 AFC South runner-up season …
- Gutting it out. Most of the Jaguars' best 2023 quarterback moments were unsurprisingly Trevor Lawrence moments. While Lawrence played through injuries in the last six weeks of the season, perhaps his 2023 highlight moment came in a key Week 7 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Lawrence, four days after sustaining a knee injury late in a home victory over the Indianapolis Colts, started the Thursday Night Football primetime game and completed 20 of 29 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, with his 44-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Christian Kirk with 3:09 remaining the winning points in a 31-24 victory at the Caesars Superdome. Lawrence also rushed for 59 yards on eight carries. "It just again shows the type of person he is and the unselfishness he has," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "This is a short week. On Monday, I would have told you he was not playing in this football game, but that's not who Trevor is."
- Seeing it. The Jaguars early in 2023 turned in a five-game winning streak – their second such streak in the last two regular seasons – with a highlight in that streak one of their strongest games of the season. The Jaguars completed a season sweep over the Indianapolis Colts with a 37-20 victory at EverBank Stadium in Week 6, a game the Jaguars led much of the final three quarters with Lawrence completing 20 of 30 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. One of the game's key plays: a 29-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to Kirk that made it 21-6 with 1:40 remaining in the second quarter. "We'd been in empty [backfield] a few times in the first game (a 31-21 Jaguars victory over the Colts in Week 1) and there were some things I saw, especially after watching it and going back this week, preparing for them again, where I saw how they played their coverage," Lawrence said. "I thought we had a little tell on. That's what we talked about this week. That was something that I felt really confident that we would get, and it honestly happened exactly how I thought it would. It doesn't always work that way when you think something's going to work, but it's cool that it happened that way."
- Two and two. The Jaguars turned in a strong November to take a two-game lead in the AFC South, a month that included a 34-14 Week 11 home victory over the Tennessee Titans that was perhaps their best game of the season – and perhaps Lawrence's most impressive performance. He completed 24 of 32 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions and also ran for two touchdowns. The Jaguars led 13-0 at halftime and 27-0 in the third quarter. "I thought Trevor played extremely well," Pederson said.
- Persevering. The Jaguars' strong November continued a week after the home victory over the Titans with a road victory over the Houston Texans – a second consecutive strong game for Lawrence. He completed 23 of 38 passes for 364 yards and a touchdown with a rushing touchdown and a two-point conversion pass. Lawrence's one-yard run gave the Jaguars a 10-0 second-quarter lead and his 57-yard pass to Kirk late in the first half gave the Jaguars first-and-goal at the Texans one, an opportunity they missed when running back Travis Etienne Jr. was stopped for no gain on the next play – the final play of the first half. Lawrence followed a 1-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Calvin Ridleywith a two-point conversion pass to Ridley for a 21-14 third-quarter lead. The 24-21 victory pushed the Jaguars' lead in the South to two games with six remaining. "We did a great job finding a way to win," Lawrence said.
- Big day for C.J. The Jaguars won just one of their final six games, with backup quarterback C.J. Beathardstarting for an injured Lawrence in a 24-0 Week 17 home victory over the Carolina Panthers. Beathard, making his first start for the Jaguars and his 13th in seven NFL seasons, completed 17 of 24 passes for 178 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. "He played smart, he played tough," Pederson said of Beathard. "He ran the offense."
- Big moment, big play. The Jaguars' five-game October winning streak wasn't as spectacular as it was efficient – and that was true of their 20-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the final game of the streak. The Jaguars never trailed, taking a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 9-3 lead at halftime. They took what proved to be an insurmountable lead with 5:05 remaining in the third quarter when Lawrence threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Etienne – a play that along with Etienne's two-point run gave the Jaguars a 17-3 lead. Lawrence found Etienne deep down the right sideline, with Pederson calling the play "a great read by Trevor. It's just an outside release go route. Trevor did a great job. He saw the corner collapse on the little stick route and just found Travis behind the defense. It was just a great play by both guys and it was something we needed. We needed to kind of get something positive on offense." Lawrence and Etienne each said it was the longest pass play ever for the duo, who also played together at Clemson University. "That has to be the longest we've hit, for sure," Lawrence said.