You would think that after winning the AFC South for the first time in five years (and just the second time in 15 years), that the Jaguars would get some respect.
They have a Super Bowl-winning coach leading the way. They feature a rising star at quarterback, one who has been in the spotlight since his high school days. Sure, it’s still here in little ol’ Duval, but still. I thought that perhaps the NFL world at large would be singing a different tune.
Boy, was I wrong.
On the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, the flagship morning show of the league-owned network, one of the hosts, Kyle Brandt, put out his list of quarterbacks, ranked in tiers in the AFC.
So let’s go through it.
First, he had Patrick Mahomes. No argument there. The Chiefs’ quarterback is not only a league MVP, Super Bowl MVP and two-time Super Bowl MVP, he is also the most exciting player to watch in football. The best player isn’t always the most exciting but Mahomes is that. He is alone in the top tier of quarterbacks in the conference. As a side note, Brandt listed Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts as the only-top tier QB in the NFL, so apparently, Brandt is placing a lot of emphasis on the past season. Or is he?
Brant’s next tier of AFC quarterbacks includes Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Buffalo’s Josh Allen. So far, this list would jive with just about any serious list of its kind. Mahomes, Burrow and Allen are considered the three best quarterbacks in the league. They are all still in their 20s. Allen has taken the Bills to the AFC championship game twice. Burrow led Cincinnati to the Super Bowl and Mahomes has the two rings.
So now, we start to look for Trevor Lawrence’s name to crop up. Most would have the Jaguars’ quarterback sitting in a tier with Justin Herbert, whom Lawrence bested in the playoffs last season. Brandt had Herbert in the third of his seven tiers. Remember, there are 16 teams in the AFC and only starting quarterbacks were ranked. Brandt decided on seven tiers.
Joining Herbert were Aaron Rodgers, who was just traded from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets. OK, considering Rodgers’ past performance, you can make a case, but he is certainly in the home stretch of his career.
But instead of Lawrence in the third tier, Herbert and Rodgers were joined by 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson (whom Lawrence also beat in the 2022 season). Jackson is a lightning rod among NFL fans. He also has not stayed healthy over the past two seasons.
So Lawrence had to be in tier four, then, right?
Nope. Nor five. Brandt placed Lawrence in the sixth tier of AFC quarterbacks, along with Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa, who considered retiring after multiple concussions last season, New England’s Mac Jones, the Bolles school product, who saw his productivity drop in his second year in the league, and Kenny Pickett, who quarterbacked the Steelers to seven wins in 12 games as a rookie.
Brandt called Lawrence’s placement “complicated,” citing the poor first half of the playoff game against the Chargers. But the Jaguars did indeed win the game, and Lawrence led a historic comeback in the process. Who cares how he started?
Yes, the Jaguars are getting a little more love nationally, but there are still those who need convincing. I suspect that this time next year, when Brandt emerges from his basement with his new list of quarterbacks, Lawrence’s rank will be much different.