Is Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence a bust? Looking over the JAG-Saw Puzzle

NFL Week 18 aftershocks: Is Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence a bust?
from Matthew Neschis, with

Several NFL teams finished the regular season on a high note (Bills, Steelers and Packers) while others hit extreme lows (Jaguars, Commanders and Panthers).

Here’s a look at four aftershocks from Week 18.

Trevor Lawrence may be a bust
Heralded as a generational talent entering the 2021 NFL Draft, Lawrence has plenty of doubters now.

After beginning the season 8-3, the Jaguars watched their playoff hopes slip away with a 28-20 loss to the Titans. Jacksonville lost five of its last six games to finish 9-8 and miss the postseason, so someone is bound to be blamed. That blame is now falling squarely on Lawrence’s shoulders.

“He’s not the same guy he was a year ago. His agent’s not going to want to hear that, but I can’t pay him like a top quarterback right now,” an NFL general manager told the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora before Sunday’s loss.

In November, former NFL cornerback Richard Sherman — now an analyst for Amazon Prime — criticized Lawrence, tweeting, “He has all the talent in the world however that has not been showcased consistently.”

On Sunday, Lawrence — who was coming off an injury to his throwing shoulder — looked shaky at best in the Jaguars’ biggest game of the season, completing 29-of-43 passes for 280 yards, two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He missed several key throws in big moments, including bad misses to Calvin Ridley and Evan Engram on Jacksonville’s final drive.

Many expected Lawrence to take a big jump this season with more weapons around him and more familiarity with HC Doug Pederson’s scheme. Yet, the 24-year-old underperformed, posting 25 total touchdowns, 14 picks and five fumbles this season. For comparison, Commanders quarterback Sam Howell had 26 TD passes and 23 turnovers.

Josh Allen needs to play cleaner
Allen’s roller coaster season was perfectly encapsulated by the Bills’ 21-14 win over the Dolphins, which secured the AFC East title for Buffalo. The star quarterback threw two interceptions in the end zone and made a costly fumble on the edge of the red zone. He also threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns and led the team with 67 rushing yards.

Allen finished the season with 44 total touchdowns, the most of any player. He also ended with a career-high 18 interceptions and 22 turnovers overall — the second most in the NFL.

Against a banged-up Dolphins defense, Allen made several mistakes and still escaped with a win. But if the Bills are to make a deep run in the playoffs, he’ll need to limit the mental errors.

Justin Fields likely played his last game as a Bear
With an opportunity to eliminate the Packers from playoff contention and solidify himself as Chicago’s franchise quarterback, Fields turned in an uninspiring performance that likely convinced Chicago it is time to move on. In a 17-9 loss to Green Bay, the 24-year-old completed 11-of-16 passes for 148 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.

Fields has played well enough this season to earn a starting job in the NFL next year. But the Bears, who have the No. 1 selection in this year’s draft thanks to last year’s trade with the Panthers, are unlikely to pass on a quarterback first overall in a second consecutive draft.

North Carolina’s Drake Maye and USC’s Caleb Williams are seen as can’t-miss prospects who can make an immediate impact in the NFL.

Baker Mayfield has earned a payday
It wasn’t pretty, but the Buccaneers secured their third consecutive NFC South title with a 9-0 win over the lowly Panthers. Though Mayfield didn’t play a good game, completing 20-of-32 passes for 137 yards and no touchdowns, his performance this season is largely how Tampa Bay made the playoffs.

Mayfield finished the regular season with career highs in passing yards (4,044), touchdown passes (28) and completion percentage (64.3%). The 28-year-old filled Tom Brady’s shoes nicely in Tampa Bay and has earned himself a payday from the Buccaneers, who will be playing in the postseason during a year that looked to be the beginning of a long rebuild.