After missing the playoffs in 13 of 14 seasons prior to 2022, it looked like more of the same last season as Jacksonville limped out of the gate with seven losses in its first 10 games. Then the Jaguars got it in gear, winning six of their last seven games of the campaign before completing an improbable 27-point comeback in a 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild-card round.
Sure, Jacksonville’s season came to an end with a competitive 27-20 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, but the outlook is sunny for coach Doug Pederson’s charges.
“There’s so much confidence right now in that locker room, and that’s the good thing,” Pederson said Wednesday.
Trevor Lawrence earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season after setting career highs in pass yards (4,113), touchdown passes (25), QB rating (95.2) and rushing touchdowns (five).
He also coaxed career seasons out of wideouts Christian Kirk and Zay Jones last season. He now has 2022 trade deadline acquisition Calvin Ridley eligible to contribute after Ridley served a year-long suspension due to violating the league’s gambling policy.
“It doesn’t really matter what other people think you should do or you’re going to do,” Lawrence said of the team’s expectations. “It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day as long as the guys in the locker room trust and have faith in you, and you keep getting better every day.
“I think that’s what success looks like. … You just have to go with that mindset every day of getting better and not letting bad plays, bad games get in your head and just continuing to turn the page, learn from the good, learn from the bad and continue growing.”
The running game features a bit more depth behind Travis Etienne, with offseason acquisition D’Ernest Johnson and third-round selection Tank Bigsby out of Auburn figured to contribute.
Richardson, the fourth overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, will assume the role of starting quarterback in Indianapolis after the team attempted Band-Aid fixes with Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan in recent years. Richardson, 21, is a bit green after starting just 13 games with Florida. However, Colts coach Shane Steichen has faith in the rookie heading into the season.
“He was in here yesterday for I don’t know, eight hours, getting ready for this game on his day off, grinding away,” Steichen said Wednesday. “So, he’s prepared.”
The Colts‘ offense will be without 2021 NFL rushing leader Jonathan Taylor, who will miss the team’s first four games after being placed on the physically unable to perform list.
The rushing game is a concern for Indianapolis, especially with Zack Moss working his way back from a broken arm. Moss was limited in practice on Wednesday for the Colts, who likely will turn to either Deon Jackson or fifth-round pick Evan Hull in the opener.
Jacksonville rookie safety Antonio Johnson did not practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, while defensive lineman Tyler Lacy was limited with an ailing hip.
—Field Level Media
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