Sunday, August 14, 2022

Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence has high hopes for 2022 under Doug Pederson: ‘Hopefully (we’ll) make a playoff run’

Trevor Lawrence is looking to headline an on- and off-field turnaround for the Jaguars in 2022. A year after struggling through a 3-14 rookie season under the direction of polarizing coach Urban Meyer, the former Clemson quarterback has been proactive in the building and in the community in hopes of growing as an NFL leader.

That includes his work with Gatorade as an ambassador for two different initiatives: Beat the Heat, which emphasizes summer hydration; and Fuel Tomorrow, a five-year pledge to provide better, equal opportunities in youth sports and education. As part of the partnership, Lawrence on Monday surprised F.U.E.L. Youth, a Jacksonville nonprofit offering K-8 care in everything from sports clinics to school tutoring, with a donation to build his own team’s community.

The QB then spoke with CBS Sports about his mission, his new Jaguars coaches, and the 2022 season:

Note: The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What specifically motivated you to donate to T.R.U.E. Youth in Jacksonville?

Lawrence: One, giving back to the community is really important to myself and my wife, and then to pair that with sports — you know, we both played sports growing up, and obviously that’s what I do now, professionally — and being able to team up with Gatorade to really try to inspire the next generation to keep playing sports, and to make sports as accessible as possible, that’s really what T.R.U.E. Youth does.

How exactly does your donation support their cause in Jacksonville?

Lawrence: Myself alongside Gatorade, we were able to pay for all the equipment and participation fees, all those things, for their kids for the next two seasons. We’re just trying to have as many kids come out and make it as easy as possible. They don’t have to worry about paying for anything, they can just come out and have fun and play football and other sports. Just being able to help give that access was really cool.

How much of your community involvement stems from your faith, which you’ve shared publicly?

Lawrence: Yeah, I think that’s where it stems from. A lot of the motivation definitely comes from that, along from just wanting to help people in general. But it’s both. I’m really just trying to do my part to give back as much as I can and just bless other people. When you’ve been given a lot, I think that’s a responsibility we all have.

Has that responsibility to give back been even more apparent since entering the NFL?

Lawrence: Yeah, definitely. Obviously you have more to give. You’ve got a lot more resources, and not just money, but partners like Gatorade and others — it’s such a priority for them as well, so it makes it a lot easier for me to team up with a partner like that and we can do great things together. I tried to kind of partner with people that have a passion for that as well. We were pretty strategic in that area, and I think it’s paid off. And I hope to be able to just do more and more as my career builds.

And how much Gatorade are you drinking as their partner? Are they requiring a certain amount?

Lawrence: (Laughs) Not a required amount. I’m drinking a good bit. We were talking about the new ‘G Fit’ Gatorades earlier today, so that’s what I’m drinking right now.

How has Doug Pederson stood out from your other coaches, not only compared to last year but all your previous coaches?

Lawrence: All the coaches that I’ve had, especially from high school on, all of them have been different. Everyone has their own personalities, they do things a different way. I’d say, personality-wise, we’re very similar just in our demeanors, the way we address things, handle things. And his leadership qualities are similar to mine in the way he relates to people. So that’s been cool to have a front-row seat to watch that. And the respect that guys have for him, not only because of what he’s done — you know, he’s won a Super Bowl as a coach and a player — but also the way he carries himself, the way he treats people. I think that’s a mutual thing, that respect there. So it’s been cool to see that unfold, that trust build between him and the team. And I really think we’re in a great spot coming out of OTAs and heading into camp.

And how much has Doug’s affinity for ice cream shown itself during your time together?

Lawrence: Yeah, we actually got some ice cream for him at one of his first press conferences, we had some ice cream waiting for him. And then, I mean, I think I’ve seen him four or five times eating an ice cream bar walking down the hallway. So the guy loves ice cream. It’s true.

In addition to Pederson, what has new offensive coordinator Press Taylor brought to you and the team?

Lawrence: Everyone on our staff, offensively and defensively, they’re just calm, cool, collected on the field. No one’s high strung. Press is really smart, a young guy you can relate to and knows how to handle different situations. Obviously just seeing how he thinks and that gelling with Coach Pederson and Coach (Mike) McCoy, our whole staff, it’s coming together really nicely. Coach McCoy, Press and Coach Pederson have now all been coordinators, and two of them have been head coaches, so that helps a ton, especially in my shoes, being only a second-year player, just trying to soak up everything I can.

There’s been a lot of buzz about Travis Etienne this offseason. How early should he be drafted in fantasy?

Lawrence: (Laughs) Honestly I don’t even know how any of that works. I think he’s gonna have a great year. I played with him for three years at Clemson, so I kinda already know what he can do. Seeing how hard he’s worked to come back and be healthy for this season, he had a great spring and I know he’s gonna be ready for camp. I’m excited to be in the backfield together. He’s gonna add an explosive element to our offense that’s really gonna help, so I’m excited.

If you could accomplish one thing in 2022, what would it be?

Lawrence: Just to make some big improvements from last year, individually and as a team. Obviously when you’re the quarterback, the better you play, the more games you’re gonna have a chance to win. Trying to put us in a position to win every game we’re in. And as a team, just coming together, gelling together. Obviously we went through a lot last year, but I can see us building this thing. … We’re just trying to win as many games as possible, hopefully make a playoff run. Who knows? We gotta win the first game first. We’ll start there, and just build every week.

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