How Darrell Bevell can maximize Trevor Lawrence’s potential in Jaguars offense

Jaguars’ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can maximize Trevor Lawrence’s immense potential by adapting to the No. 1 overall pick’s strengths.

The Urban Meyer-era in Jacksonville has certainly started off with fireworks. Landing Trevor Lawrence with the top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft was the start of an exciting rookie class. The mixture of excitement about Meyer and Lawrence has already led to a large uptick in season ticket sales.

All of the exciting offseason buzz will soon come to an end and the reality of work will settle in. The microscope is already on Meyer and Lawrence as both have been in the public’s eye for years. The scrutiny on Meyer will be especially intense after such a successful and sometimes controversial tenure in college.

Meyer has trusted Lawrence’s development into offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s hands. The 51-year-old has spent 14 years between three teams. He’s crafted a variety of offensive identities that have swayed between rush heavy (his Seahawks tenure featured four straight years of being a top-three rush offense) and efficient passing.

Working with quarterbacks Brett Favre, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford has given Bevell a unique resume to draw from. Lawrence has a dynamic skill set that should force Bevell to blend what he asked Wilson and Stafford to do. The former Clemson Tiger has traits that split the two veteran passers.

I’ve identified two key areas Bevell can focus on to build his offense around Lawrence to get the most out of this unit and his development. Failing in one of these key pillars can leave production on the table and leave us wanting more from the rookie passer.

Make Trevor Lawrence throw more on first down

Arguably the most frustrating part of both Meyer’s offenses at Ohio State and Bevell’s offenses in Seattle was their tendency to run too much. Bevell’s passing rates were among the bottom-10 in the league for over half his career. Four of the six times he wasn’t that low came since 2016.

The Jaguars will feature more capability to run the ball thanks to a good offensive line and a trio of carriers. Bevell must utilize Travis Etienne, James Robinson and Carlos Hyde with discretion and not take the temptation to rely on the group. Flexing Etienne into the slot should be a bigger priority than giving him 200 carries on the season.

Bevell found success by getting more aggressive on first down with the Lions in 2020. The Lions were average-or-better results on pass plays on first downs except when throwing to the middle and right while in the red zone, per

For the majority of their pass plays on first down, minus the one specific area of the field where their efficiency dipped, Bevell’s play-action scheme that highlighted the Lions’ receivers’ ability to win at the catch point was extremely effective.

The Lions still should’ve thrown more given their run game struggles and their overall efficiency throwing. But this was a marked improvement from the Seahawks’ frustrating ranks as a bottom-10 unit in attempts on early downs. Lawrence should be trusted sooner than later to throw in advantageous situations.

Falling for the familiar pitfall that inefficient coaches find themselves in often is a good way to make this Meyer and Bevell tenure short. Teams set on rushing twice and forcing a throw on third down are always doomed to hit a self-imposed ceiling quickly.

11 personnel will highlight Trevor Lawrence’s skills

It’s imperative the Jags run a lot of 11 personnel or empty formations. Looks with three receivers, one running back and one tight end or without any back are the most efficient in the NFL. They’re risky as well because there’s less blocking and tips the defense of the play call but overall the payoff is well worth it.

The transition from shotgun-heavy, spread collegiate offenses utilizing run-pass options and play-action with quick throws allows an easy base to build an offense around. Bevell has done well to incorporate some of this into his offenses already but must continue to skew this way. Clemson had Lawrence performing play-action out of shotgun on a whopping 93 attempts out of 257 total throws in 2020.

The Lions ranked sixth in the league by going shotgun 84 percent of all passing plays, per More balance and less predictability would be helpful but it’s better to be aggressive in this instance than only run under center. Bevell’s gotten away from being too traditional and evolving.

11 personnel can work under center or shotgun. It’d make sense to sell more play-action under center and take advantage of Lawrence’s athleticism as a runner to get him on rollouts and create open passing windows over the middle of the field.

The Jags currently lack a difference-making tight end and this is a huge area of concern. But their receiver corps is deep thanks to the acquisition of Marvin Jones. Along with Jones is a balanced and exciting group with D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson.

Taking advantage of these backs and receivers with smaller defensive personnel will be critical.


Getting Bevell was a solid hire for Meyer to lean on and build his offense with. He’s more likely to produce a quality offense than not even if the limitations of having two run-orientated coaches will eventually become a tough reality check for the franchise. However, that’s more of a Meyer issue he must overcome than a concern with Bevell since he’s evolved over time.

The Jags can’t simply run isolation routes and rely on Lawrence’s accuracy and playmaking like Clemson could but there’s a balance between pro-style attacks and the college spread. Building in easy reads on rollouts is a start to keep the offense moving if it stagnates, but also isn’t sophisticated enough to grow beyond a low-potential unit. This is where Meyer’s influence will weigh heavily off the bat.

Lawrence isn’t as accurate as Wilson but is more dynamic than Stafford. Because he sits somewhere in the middle of those two stylistically, there’s a sweet spot with play tendencies and situational formations to be found. Bevell should inspire some confidence he’ll find that balance even if he hasn’t been perfect.

We know Lawrence excelled at intermediate routes over the middle and to the right and is a plus short and downfield thrower. He wants to push the ball beyond the markers and will test tight windows. Empowering him to take riskier throws is best for his long-term growth and the offense’s upside.

What we don’t want is a repeat of Wilson’s mid-2010 seasons where he was saving the Seahawks’ offenses because they ran too often. Lawrence needs to be the focal point of the attack without being turned into Joe Burrow. Bevell hasn’t shown he’ll make that extreme mistake and Meyer must trust his veteran coordinator.

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