This wasn’t how the year was meant to go for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, or the Jaguars in general.
But, that’s the nature of the business in the NFL and Lawrence, along with his fellow captain in cornerback Shaq Griffin had to learn quickly what a year filled with drama, losing and a coaching change would be like.
Meeting with reporters on Thursday, both captains spoke extensively on how this year has gone, and what the team has to do moving forward. For Lawrence, this was a shock to the system.
“I wouldn’t [have] believed you if you told me this is how this year was going to go,” Lawrence said frankly when asked to reflect on this year.
“But like I said, I’ve learned a lot and I still feel that way. Me and Marissa have come to love Jacksonville and that’s our plan. Let’s go turn this thing around, go become a winner, let’s go win some games, get this thing turned around. I have full faith in that still.”
Lawrence found out about Urban Meyer’s firing similarly to how everyone else did, in the morning via text. The last time he, or any of the players, saw Meyer was during or shortly following practice. He would be gone for good that night when Jaguars owner Shad Khan made the call to relieve him of his duties.
“I had some texts and then just naturally kind of googled it to see what’s going on just to be honest.” Lawrence said of finding out that Meyer had been fired.
“Saw that and I rolled over and told Marissa [his wife], ‘Hey, this just happened. It’ll be an interesting day at work. I’m going to go in and see.’ Obviously, it’s not ideal. You look at where we’re at. This is not where you imagined you’d be at, at this point, but you have to make the most of it and I think we’re going to do that.”
Lawrence said he wishes nothing but the best and has plenty of respect for his former head coach. He’s, of course, the one that brought him to the Jaguars in the first place.
“He’s one of the main reasons I’m here. He drafted me, so that will always be there, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
For Lawrence, not only had he never lost as much as he has this season, sitting at 11 losses on the year, but he had never gone through a coaching change, not in high school and certainly not in college under Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney.
This year was much different than anything the young QB has had to endure. For that reason, Lawrence described the change as being “weird,” and a “different deal,” “something I’ve never experienced,” he said.
But, instead of relief, as many would assume the locker room felt on Thursday, it was more of a calm, a sense of direction and clarity amid all of the drama and distractions that took place within and outside of the Jaguars’ organization this season.
“We really want to go and finish this season strong and to be honest, it’s been hard the last week with everything going on. There’s a lot of things being stirred up I think by the outside too that didn’t help, made things a lot worse,” Lawrence said frankly.
“But also, just [with] everything that’s going on, it’s hard to be focused and have all your attention and efforts going towards winning the game when there’s so many things going on.
“So, I think I’m happy for the team that we have clarity, a sense of direction and we can just go be our best moving forward for the next four weeks and then we’ll go from there and see what the next step is.”
A renewed sense of direction could be good for the Jaguars heading into the final four games of the season, and a game against the 2-11 Houston Texans on deck for Sunday.
Still, though, the Jaguars have to look toward the future and the type of coach that will ultimately lead them to greener pastures.
For Griffin, he respected Meyer and still does, stating that he believed everything Meyer told him when he signed on the dotted line in Jacksonville during free agency this year. What he said, however, ultimately didn’t come to fruition.
“My main thing is that I was going to give everything I have to it and whatever his message was and whatever it is that he wanted to give out, I was going to follow it,” Griffin told reporters on Thursday.
“I am not sure what went wrong, whether he thought what was going to happen or what he believed in. Pinpointing is kind of hard to say but I know whatever it was, I believed in that at first. It’s crazy that it didn’t work out, but business is business.”
Like Lawrence, Griffin didn’t find out that Meyer was gone until Thursday morning via a mass group text telling players of a “mandatory” meeting. It was then, Griffin knew that a change had been made.
Griffin has never been in this situation before, either. During his time in Seattle, Griffin played for just one coach in Pete Carroll, who has been with the Seahawks since 2010. Now, he will have to play for another familiar face in interim head coach Darrell Bevell, someone Griffin knew from his time in Seattle.
Whatever he has to do to take the pressure off of Bevell, Griffin is going to try to do, he says.
“I know he is going to put us in the right situations and point us in the right direction to get this turned around and win games.”
Moving forward, the Jaguars will be on the lookout for their next head coach. For Griffin, the formula is quite simple, find someone that actually believes in his players.
“I feel like this locker room needs a head coach that actually believes in what their players are saying. Trust in that we can all make this work – that this is not a one-man show,” Griffin said honestly.
“I feel like sometimes head coaches come in and are just like, ‘I’m just going to flip around. This is my way, let’s do it.’ Sometimes they forget about us. For any head coach who decides to take on this job or whatever the case may be, trust your teammates.
“We can do this together, we can win this together. This is a team effort. That would be my main message – let’s do this together as a team.”
It’ll be a team effort, certainly, and Griffin feels like that’s going to be his focus over the last four games of the season. Figuring out how to win is something the team has struggled to do all season at 2-11, but it’s still the ultimate goal. Focus.
“My main thing is keeping the focus, the main focus, like I said, the next game and these players.”