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Jacksonville Jaguars 2023 NFL Season Preview: Pederson's Magic Goes On

Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence Doug Pederson
Jan 14, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates with head coach Doug Pederson after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers during a wild card game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As teams head to training camp and the NFL season approaches, The 33rd Team asks its experts to preview every team’s outlook for the 2023 season. In this installment, Chuck Pagano takes a deep dive into the Jacksonville Jaguars

>> READ: Jaguars Fantasy Football Preview

Jacksonville Jaguars Team Preview

What to Know: Offense

The biggest storyline is Trevor Lawrence. We all know what happened in Year 1 for Trevor.

Then, Doug Pederson came in for Year 2, and Lawrence made a quantum leap in all the major statistical categories. He went from a 59 percent completion rate to 66. He threw 25 touchdowns with only eight interceptions, compared to his rookie season when he had 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Lawrence added 4,113 passing yards and five rushing touchdowns, too.

I expect Lawrence to make another huge leap in Year 2 in Pederson's offense. He's not even close to his ceiling. This is a super-talented guy. He's got a great arm.

His supporting cast has a ton of talent. TE Evan Engram just resigned. WR Calvin Ridley is going to be in the mix with receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. Plus, they have Travis Etienne in the backfield. This season, Lawrence will take another leap, maybe 5,000 yards passing, 32 touchdowns with single-digit interceptions.

What to Know: Defense

He was the No. 1 overall pick in 2022, and many people said this was a stretch. But if you looked at LB Travon Walker when he was at the University of Georgia, saw the metrics, the skill set and his 6-foot-5, 275 frame, and it starts to make sense. Walker can run like a deer, come off the edge, set the edge in the run game and rush the quarterback.

He didn't have the season everybody expected him to have in 2022: 3.5 sacks and only 10 quarterback hits. This kid has gone to work. He's probably going to be in the best shape of his life. He's added some new tricks and some new moves to his toolbox when rushing the passer.

He did a phenomenal job as a rookie vs. the run. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell is in his second season. Caldwell will find ways to get Walker some favorable pass-rush matchups.

On the other end, Josh Allen should take up many of the offensive protection issues. So Walker is the storyline on defense for this team. If they're going to be good on defense, they need Walker to get to the quarterback.

Biggest Off-Field Storyline

The Jaguars have a great quarterback with Lawrence, and the way you protect a great quarterback is by locking down his blindside. But LT Cam Robinson will not be available for the first four games because he's suspended for a PED violation.

In comes Walker Little. He started eight games in Robinson's absence during the last couple of years. He's 6-foot-7 and a little more than 300 pounds. He's a bright kid who went to Stanford. Look out, he may throw a book at you. The biggest thing is how Walker will perform, especially early in the year when Robinson is out. Walker will have to protect the franchise quarterback's blindside.

Breakout Player Prediction

Calvin Ridley. You pull up YouTube, watch the NFL Network, whatever you want, and look at this guy's highlights from training camp. He looks like the Road Runner.

It looks like everybody else is in slow motion, and Ridley is moving at 1,000 miles per hour. In 2020, he had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns — a phenomenal season. In 2021, he was banged up, had to leave the field for personal issues and was suspended in 2022.

Now, he's got a fresh start with Pederson and company. I expect Ridley to have a huge year for the Jaguars because a lot of attention will go to those other dudes (Kirk, Jones, Engram). Ridley has to have a huge chip on his shoulder, so he will come out swinging. Look for Ridley to have a phenomenal year for Jacksonville.

Move Jaguars Should Make

They should look to add some players who can get to the quarterback. They lost LB Arden Key in free agency. Last season, Allen had seven sacks, and Walker had only 3.5.

This team was 27th in the league in sacks, with only 35. The Philadelphia Eagles, who finished first or second in the league in most major defensive categories, had 70 sacks.

So if I'm Jacksonville, I'm starting to kick the tires on some of these edge rushers still out there and see if I can improve. They could bring in Jadeveon Clowney or Melvin Ingram. Bring those guys in for a workout to see where they're at.

They could wait till the final cut down, too. Another team might release a player who played their tail off in the preseason. The Jaguars just need to try to find a player to help that pass rush.

2023 Season Expectations

Just look at the AFC South. This team came out of nowhere after a rough start in the first half of the season. They won the games they needed to, made the playoffs, won the South and went 9-8 in 2022. They came back from down 27 points at halftime to win in the wild-card round, beating a really good Chargers team.

There is a ton of momentum down in Jacksonville right now. The Jaguars should win the AFC South and get back to the playoffs again. This is a talented, talented roster.

Pederson's a Super Bowl-winning coach, and he's making magic right now. They're buying into everything he's saying. I'd hate to see this team in the playoffs if I was an opposing coach.

Other Previews

NFC East: DAL | NYG  | PHI | WAS

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE  | NYJ

NFC North: GB | CHI | DET | MIN

AFC North: PIT | CLE | BAL | CIN 

AFC West: KC | LAC | LV | DEN

NFC West: SF | SEA | LAR | ARI

NFC South: TB | CAR | NO | ATL

AFC South: TEN | HOU | IND  

Chuck Pagano is a former NFL head coach and assistant. He is best known for his tenure with the Indianapolis Colts where he won two straight AFC South titles.