The Jaguars are set to kick off its second of three preseason games this year without officially naming a starting quarterback.
While it’s likely the case that first-overall pick, quarterback Trevor Lawrence takes the opening-drive snaps against the New Orleans Saints on Monday, head coach Urban Meyer remains undecided on who will ultimately start Week 1 against the Houston Texans, Lawrence or Gardner Minshew II.
With both Minshew and Lawrence splitting the first-team repetitions in Jacksonville, it’s led plenty of media, fans and observers to question: When will Lawrence ultimately get all the reps, important reps needed for when he plays in the regular season. The answer, Meyer says, is if he wins the job.
“If he wins it, which that hasn’t happened yet,” he said on Friday. “So, as soon as that happens, then you give him the one reps, all one reps.”
It hasn’t happened, yet, and, in theory, Mayer says that decision could not even be made until following the team’s last preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Still, Meyer has a timeline in his mind of when the team will make that decision.
“I do in my own mind, but once again, it’s a conversation that the three people are having daily.”
Those three people likely include himself, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer. Lawrence and Minshew have alternated first-team reps since the start of camp. For example, on Thursday, Minshew was the team’s first-team QB, while Lawrence took those snaps on Friday.
This sort of alternating might leave Lawrence and Minshew at a disadvantage heading into the season, not getting the majority of reps that are especially important for a first-year QB, or a QB still learning a brand-new system from a year prior.
As for rookie quarterbacks around the league, second-overall pick Zach Wilson has taken first-team reps with the New York Jets, while third-overall pick, QB Trey Lance, has recently begun receiving some first-team reps in San Francisco.
Justin Fields, the Chicago Bears rookie quarterback, has yet to surpass Andy Dalton, and a battle has continued with Mac Jones and Cam Newton up in New England.
In Chicago, San Francisco and New England, those quarterback situations are understandable. The Bears brought in Dalton to be their starting QB prior to drafting Fields, while Jimmy Garappolo has long been the starting QB, when healthy, in San Francisco prior to the 49ers selecting a 20-year-old Lance at third overall.
And Newton is a former NFL MVP with plenty of reason to continue manning the position until if and when Jones is ready.
While Minshew has started games in Jacksonville and played well at times during his rookie season, he is far from established, and the comparison to other QBs across the league shouldn’t be made, especially given the performances seen during training camp and in last week against the Cleveland Browns.
It has been clear who the better quarterback in Jacksonville has been, and Lawrence has stood out time and time again with impressive showings during the team’s 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 periods. And, the reality is, Meyer took the job in Jacksonville with Lawrence in mind, even giving coaches around the league a heads up about the selection.
Lawrence is his guy and always has been.
Still, the rookie QB has had to bide his time to earn more reps in practice, something that he understands fully being a first-year quarterback.
“Obviously as a young guy, you want as many [reps] as you can just because every look you get is something new you are seeing and something you can learn from,” Lawrence said on Friday.
“For me, I just want as many as I can get, and we are at that point now where we have been practicing for so long and it is more about getting a lot more mental reps too because we can’t go out there for three hours every day as the season starts.”
Admittedly, Lawrence says it is tougher to get into a rhythm while at the same time splitting reps between two players, but he understands that it’s just part of the process and competition, something he will have to get better at handling.
“It’s tougher to get in a rhythm that way but it is just something that is part of it. Everyone has to deal with it, and I can get better at that for sure,” he explained.
“Just consistently making plays and taking advantage of every play that I am in there. That’s just something I can do a little bit better of a job of but that is part of every — competition, every practice in general with groups rotating in and out. That is something you always have to deal with.”
In the end, Lawrence feels that competition is the way a team must be run, stating that he believes the coaching staff has done a good job at handling it.
Still, the question remains how long the competition will continue, and if come Week 1 against the Texans, will Lawrence be fully prepared to get off to a hot start to his young career.