PALM BEACH, Fla. – Doug Pederson likes what he sees so far.
And when it comes to quarterback Trevor Lawrence, what the Jaguars' head coach maybe likes best is what he expects in the coming weeks and months.
"I think we're going to see some really good growth as we begin our offseason program in a couple of weeks," Pederson said.
Pederson, named the Jaguars' head coach February 6, spoke to national and local media this week during the NFL's 2022 Annual Meeting at The Breakers Palm Beach – a media availability in which Pederson not unexpectedly was asked often about Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pederson as he has done often since his hiring spoke positively of Lawrence and said this week the offseason program that begins April 11 will mark the beginning of "shaping our offense around him and what he can do."
Pederson, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016-2020, coached the Eagles to a Super Bowl title following the 2017 season – and he said Lawrence's skills very definitely fit the schemes and concepts for which Pederson has been known as a head coach in Philadelphia and an offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2013-2015.
"No. 1 he's athletic," Pederson said. "No. 2, he throws the ball extremely well. He fits the RPO (run-pass option) scheme on offense. He can fit the play action pass. I really believe it's the play-action game, the quarterback movement game … he throws the ball extremely well outside the pocket on the run."
Pederson added, "He throws the ball well on the run. No. 2, he throws the deep ball really well – particularly the seam throws between the number and the hash. That was something that really popped out on film as we were watching him and studying him this offseason.
"Those are things we can try to develop."
Lawrence, considered perhaps the best quarterback in the draft in a decade, started all 17 games as a rookie and threw 12 touchdown passes with 17 interceptions in the Jaguars' 3-14 season. He finished the season with his best game – a two-touchdown, no-interception performance in an upset victory over the playoff-contending Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
“I was obviously told a lot of things about him, and when you finally get to meet him, everything is true,” Pederson said. “He’s a great communicator. He’s a great leader. He wants to win. He’s a good athlete. Everything you see on tape and everything people tell you in the building … when you meet him, it’s legit. It’s who he is." Head Coach Doug Pederson on QB Trevor Lawrence
"He's a humble guy and that's what you want as a quarterback – somebody who's kind of a sponge, who wants to learn and wants to grow. He wants to put the team first and those are all great qualities in Trevor."
Pederson on Lawrence: "It's a little bit of everything with him – his athleticism, the way he runs. He came from an offensive system in Clemson where it was a little bit of an RPO game, some play-action pass and even some quarterback runs. Those are all things he has in his toolbox and I think we can help bring it all together, continue to coach him and continue to work on the fundamentals of the quarterback position and really help our team win."
Pederson this week updated the health of running backs James Robinson and Travis Etienne Jr., saying "both of them are doing extremely well." Robinson, a third-year veteran and the Jaguars' leading rusher the past two seasons, sustained a torn Achilles in the 15th game of last season. Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, missed the entire regular season with a Lisfranc injury sustained in preseason. "Travis will be able to work a little bit this offseason with us, and get into a little football drill work," Pederson said. "James will be a little more into training camp before we get him. But it's a really a good one-two combination [at running back]." Pederson said while Etienne has comparatively little NFL experience, running backs coach Bernie Parmalee has spoken highly of the player who rushed for 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns in four seasons at Clemson. "Listening to him talk about Travis and some of the things they did with him last year in [training] camp, I think there are some things we see in him as an offensive staff. It's a really good one-two competition when healthy." Pederson was asked if Etienne would play solely running back or perhaps contribute as a wide receiver. "We'll see," he said, smiling.