3 Best Coaching Options for Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence
The Jacksonville Jaguars' Urban Meyer experiment was nothing short of a disaster in 2021. The first-time NFL coach failed to put a competitive product on the field, caused several off-field distractions and failed to adequately develop rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence was widely viewed as a generational quarterback prospect. He finished his inaugural NFL campaign with a 3-14 record and a lowly 71.9 passer rating. Meyer, of course, was fired in December.
As the Jaguars embark on their second coaching search in as many years, Lawrence's development is of the utmost importance. He has the potential to solve Jacksonville's quarterback problem for the next decade-plus, but the Jags have to find a coach who can succeed where Meyer failed.
Here we'll examine three candidates who could help Lawrence realize his potential in 2022 and beyond.
The Jaguars don't necessarily have to hire an offensive coach to support Lawrence. Part of the problem in 2021 was a Jacksonville defense that ranked 20th overall and 28th in points allowed. The rookie quarterback was frequently in shootout situations, which puts a ton of pressure on a first-year signal-caller.
This is why hiring a coach like Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus would make a ton of sense. The Colts had three defensive Pro Bowlers in 2021—Darius Leonard, Kenny Moore II and DeForest Buckner—and they finished the year ranked ninth in points allowed.
A similarly strong defense in Jacksonville would give Lawrence a fair opportunity to develop instead of being asked to carry the team. Eberflus would also bring experience against AFC South foes and is a favorite of Jags general manager Trent Baalke.
"Baalke has reached out to several of the candidates to gauge their interest in him, sources said, and has become a strong proponent of Eberflus," CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora wrote.
If the Jaguars want to build a balanced team with a stout defense, hiring Eberflus could be the right call.
If the Jaguars want to directly support Lawrence with an offensive head coach, hiring Eric Bieniemy would make a ton of sense. The Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator has helped Patrick Mahomes become arguably the most dangerous quarterback in the game.
And while head coach Andy Reid does the play-calling in Kansas City, Mahomes has raved about Bieniemy's role in the game planning.
"There's a ton of input from Coach Bieniemy, and he calls a ton of plays in our game plan," Mahomes told The Dan Patrick Show. "It just gets overlooked."
While Mahomes' raw talent is a huge part of Kansas City's success, the offensive scheme has played a big part as well. Bieniemy has helped put players like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Jerick McKinnon in mismatch situations, which allows Mahomes' skills to shine.
Bieniemy could help get the most out of weapons like James Robinson and Laviska Shenault Jr., which, in turn, would help Lawrence tremendously. He's also seen firsthand what it takes to be an elite signal-caller in the NFL, and he could help guide Lawrence down that path.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is another offensive coach on Jacksonville's radar.
According to La Canfora, Jacksonville was waiting for Tampa Bay's playoff run to end before scheduling a second interview with Leftwich. Tampa Bay was ousted from the postseason Sunday.
Leftwich helped the Buccaneers field the league's second-ranked offense (both in yards and points) this season. While quarterback Tom Brady gets a ton of credit for Tampa Bay's success, the future Hall of Famer has voiced his respect for Leftwich.
"Byron has been amazing for me to work with," Brady told reporters in December.
If Brady found Leftwich to be a coaching asset, Lawrence would most likely do the same.
Like Bieniemy, Leftwich knows what goes into being a successful NFL quarterback—only the latter has more direct experience. He was a first-round pick of the Jaguars in 2003 and spent a decade in the NFL as a quarterback.
Leftwich knows how to build an offense, what it takes to succeed and is familiar with the Jacksonville franchise and its fanbase. There are multiple reasons why a Jaguars reunion would make sense, but the most important is that Leftwich could help Lawrence become a winning quarterback.