JACKSONVILLE – Trevor Lawrence is playing well in multiple areas.
That can be seen in statistics, big plays and victories. But when Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson discussed the third-year quarterback Monday, he discussed something not statistical at all.
"What I've been most impressed with was how he's just leading the football team," Pederson said.
Pederson, speaking a day after a key AFC South victory over the Houston Texans as the Jaguars began preparing to play the Cincinnati Bengals Monday at EverBank Field, discussed multiple areas of the Jaguars' offense. It's an offense that improved on third-down situations Sunday while producing 445 total yards – their second-highest yardage total of the season.
The Jaguars did not allow a sack and Lawrence was hit twice.
Lawrence completed 23 of 38 passes for a season-high 364 yards and a touchdown with an interception Sunday. He also ran for a touchdown, and he now has three rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns in the last two games.
"He has been taking care of the football the last couple of weeks," Pederson said. "Honestly, there's, there's still some room if you watch the film to grow and improve and really anticipate certain things."
Lawrence in the second quarter Sunday narrowly missed a touchdown pass that skimmed off wide receiver Calvin Ridley's hands. He keyed a third-quarter drive with a 45-yard pass to Ridley, capping that drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Ridley and a two-point conversion pass to Ridley on the ensuing play.
"He's just continuing to make impressive throws and he continues to grow," Pederson said.
Also growing: Lawrence's chemistry with Ridley, who caught five passes for 89 yards and a touchdown with the two-point conversion Sunday.
Ridley, in his first season with the Jaguars, has 47 receptions for 663 yards and five touchdowns this season. He has 12 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games after 13 receptions for 138 yards and no touchdowns in the previous four games.
"It's more he and Trevor being on the same page – the more they work in practice and talk about certain things, and then just Calvin's understanding of the offense and how [wide receivers coach] Chad Hall details the routes for him," Pederson said of Ridley's increased production. "It's a combination of all of them, but I think the biggest thing and biggest factor is that Trevor and Calvin are on the same page and they communicate.
"Then it's by design: We try to get Calvin on some favorable matchups and let him use his athleticism, strength and speed to attack defenders."
- Pederson early this week also praised a Jaguars defense that once again made big plays at big moments Sunday. While the Jaguars did not force a turnover, they registered four sacks on Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud for 43 yards. Outside linebacker Josh Allen registered 2.5 sacks, all in the second half and 1.5 on the Texans' final drive. Outside linebacker Travon Walker shared a last-drive sack with Allen and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris registered a first-half sack. "That's huge," Pederson said of the effectiveness of the pass rush. "These guys play extremely hard, our defense, to be able to control the line of scrimmage. [Defensive coordinator] Mike [Caldwell] has them playing at a really high level. They're playing fast in the secondary and they did a nice job covering up guys [Sunday] when C.J. went into scramble mode. The guys have really bought into Mike and his scheme, and they're playing with more confidence and playing fast. That's a credit to Mike and his staff."
- Third-year tight end Luke Farrell turned in the biggest play of his NFL career – and one of the biggest plays of the game – Sunday when he turned a short pass from Lawrence into a 42-yard catch-and-run gain. The play turned first-and-15 from the Jaguars 20 into first-and-10 at the Texans 38 and led to a 48-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus that gave the Jaguars a 13-7 lead late in the second quarter. "He's a good receiving tight end," Pederson said of Farrell. "He has great hands. You see the strength and the ability to run after the catch he has. We have [plays for Farrell] in every week. It's just a matter of getting to them. It all depends on what the defense kind of dictates to us whether we call those or not. This past week was an opportunity for us to get that movement game, get Trevor on the edge and Luke the football. Trevor does have a lot of confidence in him. He trusts him, he knows where he's going to be and that's a positive for offense."