Trevor Lawrence oscillated between fantastic moments and rookie mistakes in his home opener, giving Jacksonville Jaguars fans glimpses of what the future can be, while reminding them how long the road will be to get there. The Jaguars fell 23-13 to the Denver Broncos, as Lawrence went 14-33 for 118 gross yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Lawrence looked transcendent on the Jaguars opening drive, the franchise quarterback here to save the club. After receiving the opening kickoff, the No. 1 overall pick sent his team downfield on an 11 play, 83-yard drive that saw Lawrence himself go 5-7 for 73 yards and the 25-yard score to Marvin Jones Jr.
He spread it around, targeting tight end James O’Shaughnessy for a big gain, letting Laviska Shenault draw a penalty to keep things moving and giving James Robinson a couple of carries to grab a few extra yards. His biggest asset though was his comfort blanket, Marvin Jones Jr. Lawrence went to the veteran four times for 49 yards and a touchdown.
“The first drive, that was kind of our plays that we were going with to start our openers, if you call it, whatever, except for the 3rd downs. He did a good job calling those. We were rolling, did great with those,” said Lawrence of the Jags' most productive drive of the day, which ended in the club's only offensive touchdown.
“A one-on-one match-up on the outside. We felt like going into this game, as much disguise as they did with the secondary, that was one of the spots that we could try to attack was the one-on-ones outside away from the cover two side and kind of just what we were thinking. Marv did a good job holding his grass, gave him a chance, he made the play. That was awesome to see.”
Jones, for his part, gave the credit completely to Lawrence.
“A great ball, a great ball by Trev,” bragged Jones of Lawrence. “So he placed it perfectly and I did the easy thing, just ran under it.”
From there though, things slowed down for the rookie passer, as the Denver Broncos forced a three-and-out that saw Laviska Shenault get hammered and flipped for a pass breakup. The connection with Shenault, later shots to Jones and DJ Chark as well (outside of 19-yard completion to Chark over the middle of the field) indicated a disconnect between Lawrence and the receivers all day.
There were drops from receivers and tight ends, overthrows and miscues from Lawrence. It added up to only having 31 passing yards after the first drive. Lawrence was quick to defend his teammates, taking the blame for the 19 incompletions.
“I think it's just a lot of things. I missed a few throws. We didn't have really many drops today, so I think they did a good job. Denver did a good job contesting a lot of the throws. They mixed up their coverages well. I thought I saw it pretty well, too, and I think we just got behind the sticks a little bit as the game went on.
“You saw the first drive, we stayed in 2nd and 3rd and short, and I don't know however many yards on the first drive, we go down and score. Then after that we get a penalty or we'd have two incompletions back-to-back, then we'd be 3rd and 10 or whatever, and just getting behind. It's really hard against a good defense to convert 3rd and 10 over and over again.
“That's one thing. Just got to keep getting better. I thought we were better today than last week for sure, but just got to keep getting better.”
Jones agreed, admitting there were some miscues between Lawrence and the receivers on Sunday, but all are ones the long-time vet believes can be easily addressed.
“We'll get to that point. And that's the thing. We're still, you know, working through it and that comes in practice and that's not a problem, you know because we have good plays in practice and we just have to keep going. It’s a process—sometimes it's a process—and we did miss a few, you know, between both of us, receivers and [Lawrence], and that's something that we go and we correct it and this is going to be great once we get it all figured out.
“But, I mean as you can see we had some had some great plays, we had some not-so-great plays and so that's not something that I am or anybody else is worried about; we’ll get it done."
Lawrence tossed two interceptions on Sunday as well, which, at time of print was tied for a league-leading five interceptions (tied with the No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson) through the first two weeks. Always a cerebral player, Lawrence was able to identify both after the loss.
The first interception was an underthrown ball to Luke Farrell on the sideline, picked by Kareem Jackson. The second was a deep shot to Tyron Johnson, looking to get the Jags in the red zone. The 50/50 ball put the newly signed Johnson up against the first-round corner Patrick Surtain. The latter won.
“Two turnovers, got to get better at that. [Patrick] Surtain made a great catch on the go-ball, so that's one of those he made a great play. It happens. But the other one was a bad decision by me. Just keep taking care of the ball,” countered Lawrence.
This is not only the first time in Lawrence’s career that he’s been 0-2, it’s the first time he’s ever lost back-to-back games period. Next week, he’ll have to face Chandler Jones, the sack machine, as the Arizona Cardinals visit Jacksonville.
“I'm processing it as good as you can,” said Lawrence of the sobering new record. “Obviously you want to win. Like I said, you work all week to win, and when you don't, it's disappointing. I feel like I'm in a good spot. I'm the same person, same mindset. Nothing has changed. Making sure I keep my confidence every week is big, and I think I have that
Lawrence’s comfortability with the game will inevitably continue to progress, but for Meyer and his staff it’s more about making him comfortable with the offense they want him to run. Meyer has mentioned taking advantage of Lawrence’s skill set in the past, but he’s also asking his rookie to trust him and adjust to a style that the coach believes will benefit both Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the long run.
"It's him, learning how to play the style of offense that we’re playing,” explained Meyer. “I know for his career that's going to be the best thing to do. When I made that decision to hire Bevell and [passing game coordinator] Brian Schottenheimer, a lot went into that decision and to run a spread offense.
"I don't know, I think he needs to become a professional quarterback, and that also includes some spread elements, which we do. So it's going to be combination of both. I know that's the right thing for him and his career and his future.”