There’s been plenty to be disappointed about this season for the Jaguars, including rookie QB Trevor Lawrence’s production on the gridiron.
But, what the young QB has gone through away from the field, and within the locker room could pay massive dividends for him moving forward in his career.
Not all has been lost for Lawrence, who has thrown just nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions through 14 games this season. His touchdown percentage of 1.8% is the second-lowest mark in the NFL this season behind just Carolina Panthers QB P.J. Walker (1.5%).
But, don’t get it twisted, Lawrence has shown plenty of flashes during his rookie season and has yet to look like a QB completely out of his depth. That much has been clear.
All of those statistics aside, understanding the situation Lawrence was thrust into from the start to the end of this season is incredibly important.
Truthfully, Lawrence’s leadership has been one of the few bright spots amid a bleak, dark season for Jacksonville.
Dealing with a head coach that was fired after just 13 games following a series of troubling headlines, along with playing in an offense that never has found its identity surrounded by subpar pass catchers, Lawrence still has been able to navigate through his young NFL life, somehow.
“I wouldn’t [have] believed you if you told me this is how this year was going to go,” Lawrence said last week following the dismissal of Urban Meyer.
And he’s right, there aren’t many out there who truly believed this was how this season would go. The Jaguars currently sit at 2-12, slated to select first-overall for a second-straight year, something that has occurred just seven other times in NFL history.
Lawrence has tripled the number of losses he has had throughout his football life in just one season, losing twice at the high-school level and twice at the collegiate level. But, it’s not just the losing that has plagued the Jaguars this season.
On multiple occasions Lawrence has had to step up, becoming a quick-learning leader for this franchise, including a couple of weeks ago when he spoke out about the lack of carries for top running back James Robinson.
Here’s #Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence’s full answer on James Robinson and having continuity in the backfield:— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) December 8, 2021
“Bottom line is James is one of our best players and he’s gotta be on the field, and we addressed it, and I feel like we’re in a good spot.” pic.twitter.com/YJXDuYiSWA
The leadership traits that Lawrence has shown during his young NFL career are remarkable, and something to keep in mind as the years move forward.
“Yeah, I think the NFL season is hard enough. Just being a rookie and playing in the position that he gets to play, there’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders,” Jaguars interim HC Darrell Bevell said of Lawrence on Monday.
“Any time you add any more distractions or outside interference into that, I think it adds to that. I like the way he’s handled it. I think he’s been a true professional about it. He continues to work and has been about his business each and every day. So, I’m really proud of what he’s done over this time that he’s been here.”
Lawrence has handled everything the right way and has done so all season when meeting with reporters weekly and after each game this year.
#Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence says he didn’t feel any type of way when Meyer mentioned his name on Monday when speaking on an example of when Meyer would tell his players to be careful: pic.twitter.com/AWPvOiO0bs— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) October 6, 2021
He has responded with poise, even through tough questions about why his head coach wasn’t with the team after a Thursday Night football game in Cincinnati in Week 4.
“I think that was great. I know a lot of the guys respected it, how he addressed us this morning,” Lawrence said on Oct. 6 regarding Meyer addressing the team about his indiscretions.
“[He] was just upfront with us, apologized. We are a team and we are sticking together. Just because something happens that puts a little stress on it, that doesn’t mean you just give up and you go your separate ways. You figure it out and you work through it, so that’s what we’re doing.”
While it’s not uncommon for a QB to take the role of team leader, it isn’t typically as turbulent during the QB’s first season, at least not with off-the-field issues. But, that’s what Lawrence has had to adapt to; Becoming that sort of leader has been paramount.
His teammates have noticed it, too. Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen spoke about Lawrence’s leadership on Wednesday, noting that he has a “bright future” in the NFL.
“Real well man,” Allen said when asked about how impressed he’s been with Lawrence. “When we are in the locker room man, I just talk to him and just be like I really appreciate you for just the type of person that you are, not just focusing on yourself but focusing on the team and what’s best for the team and getting that out there and being vocal about it and not being afraid.
“Definitely thank him and I am definitely really appreciative to have a guy like that in the locker room and also to be so young and take control and take lead is great to see. I know Trevor has a bright future and he is going to have a bright future in Jacksonville and I can see that coming.”
Lawrence has impressed plenty around him with how he’s handled everything this season. Carrying that into next season and beyond will be important. Even on the day before Jaguars owner Shad Khan announced Meyer would no longer be with the club.
On that Wednesday, just several hours before the midnight announcement, Lawrence made a statement that the drama the franchise has gone through has got to stop, an assertive statement that should have made more headlines than it did, really.
“You’re always going to have some form of drama. I’ve learned that even just the NFL is more drama in general than college no matter where you’re at. But you’re right, there’s been a lot and to your point, I do think that has to change,” Lawrence said.
“That’s something that we need to work on for sure. You can’t always be in the headlines; you just have to go play football. That’s where we’re trying to get, and I have no doubt we’ll get there.”
Moving forward and into next year, Lawrence must improve on the field. He has to show why the franchise selected him first overall in the first place. But, in the meantime, learning and growing up quickly in the NFL will pay him, and the team, dividends in the future.