They will tell you that it is “only the preseason,” but anyone who watched the first two preseason games can see things do not look too good right now for Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback (QB) Trevor Lawrence.
It is beyond me how the national media is finding ways to put a positive spin on anything happening in Jacksonville right now – – especially Lawrence. While all of his peers from his draft class are starting to crawl and even walk, Lawrence is not showing much of any real signs of development.
Lawrence has been sacked consistently a number of times in his first two outings and the Saints gave every defensive coordinator in the league clues on how to ruin all of Lawrence’s Sundays this fall. Put lots of pressure on him and play tight man coverage.
Lawrence looks like he has no idea how to handle either, especially the physicality of the NFL game. It is messing with his mind and his hair. I had stated in my pre-draft scouting report on Lawrence that was exactly the way to win against him and it is proving to be true.
Right now Lawrence looks out of sync and there is no real rhythm to the offense when he is leading the group. Watching what Meyer, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Lawrence produce is like listening to three guys playing three different songs on three different instruments. To put things in contrast, third stringer C.J. Beathard stepped into the game and almost brought Jacksonville back from behind to win, with two late touchdown drives he was able to put together. If someone did not know any better it looked like Beathard was drafted first overall, not Lawrence.
Lawrence has looked uncomfortable and sometimes hesitant to pull the trigger. The only chemistry Lawrence has been able to find somewhat is with wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. Outside of that, Lawrence has mostly managed success in the short game and occasionally in the intermediate level of the field over the middle – – and that is it. His bread and butter at Clemson was throwing deep, but in his two deep attempts against the Saints, Lawrence could not hit the broad side of a barn.
Simply put – – Jacksonville’s offense so far looks like a teenager trying to learn how to drive a stick shift with Lawrence at the wheel. The announcer in the Saints’ game even stated Meyer said they do not even have an offensive identity yet.
This is further illustrated by the fact Lawrence has only converted on 5/13 third downs and managed to put three points on the board in two games. Twice, on those third down attempts he threw short of the first down sticks. All of Lawrence’s drives are bogging down rather quickly and even when he managed to get his team inside the red zone against New Orleans, he could not punch that in either. His passes into the end zone during that series were way off target. If he was shooting baskets in the NBA on those couple the crowd would have been chanting, “air ball….air ball….”
Yes it is preseason, blah, blah, blah, but these are all telltale signs as was Meyer’s face and body language Monday night. Meyer’s body language said it all.
To compound issues, Jacksonville’s running game has been anemic when Lawrence has been in the game, which does not bold well for his dependency on the play action fake he used in college to set the table downfield. Against New Orleans, Meyer tried to get some heat off Lawrence through trying to get the running game going, but that amounted to next to nothing. To compound problems even more, Jacksonville received the crushing news Tuesday that their other first round draft choice, running back Travis Etienne, is out for the season due to injury. Lawrence’s rookie season just got even longer.
I tried to find positives through the first two games, to keep things balanced. The biggest one I found was the fact Lawrence was able to fight back after two early sacks against Cleveland and convert on third downs in those situations – – that and the chemistry he has managed to somewhat develop with Jones. He has also thrown a couple of darts downfield he almost seemed to will. Outside of that – – it has been bleak.
The 20-32 for 184 yards so far does not at all tell the real story. Truth be told, two of his passes against the Saints could have easily been picked off as well. After playing the whole first half against the Saints, Lawrence was pulled in favor of QB Gardner Minshew. Meyer had seen enough and I think Lawrence had seen enough too.
Again, I tried to find positives too. It was just hard – – really hard to find many.
Welcome to the NFL golden boy. I am feeling pretty good with the 90% bust rate I put on you prior to the draft.
Suddenly, you are looking like a small fish in a very big pond.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.