Fresh off of his first-career Pro Bowl appearance, Trevor Lawrence penned “A Letter to Jacksonville” in The Players’ Tribune on Wednesday.
The quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars thanked fans, credited his coaches and teammates, promised the team’s success in 2022 was “just the beginning” and set lofty expectations for the future.
“I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of Duval,” Lawrence wrote. “Because I know how much this season meant to our city.”
I wish we were still out there playing, but the future's looking bright in Jacksonville! @PlayersTribune https://t.co/rmEpb0QQ59— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) February 8, 2023
The Jaguars entered the 2022 season with a new head coach in Doug Pederson and low expectations. Lawrence was coming off of a rookie year in which he often struggled, and Jacksonville’s 2021 season was quite frankly disastrous under former head coach Urban Meyer.
What ensued in 2022 was something that not many pundits or fans predicted. Lawrence ascended during his second year in the NFL, Jacksonville was a much-improved team overall and Pederson proved to be the right person to lead the organization.
The Jaguars would win the AFC South Division title, win an AFC Wild Card game in the NFL playoffs after a 27-point comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers, and pushed the No. 1-seeded Kansas City Chiefs to the brink in the AFC Divisional round.
The season had its up and downs. After a 2-1 start, the Jaguars lost five games in a row and sat at 2-6 overall. Jacksonville then finished the season at 7-2, and won the final five games of the regular season, plus the first playoff game. Jaguars fans stood with the team throughout all of it, and Lawrence noticed.
The memory that really stood out to Lawrence, perhaps unsurprisingly, was that 27-point comeback victory over the Chargers. Jacksonville was hosting its first playoff game since the 2017-2018 season, and even when the game started so poorly for the Jaguars, the fans never wavered. Lawrence threw four interceptions in the first half of that game before throwing four touchdowns.
“There’s one memory I keep coming back to when I think of y’all (fans),” Lawrence wrote. “It’s when I was looking up at the scoreboard and it was 27–0 (I know I don’t have to tell you what game). This was right before our last drive of the half, and the Chargers had been beating us all over the field. And I was going through the tablets, watching back the picks, just trying to keep myself focused. But then I kind of looked up into the stands … and I noticed something: Nobody was leaving.
“That struck me as saying a lot about this place. We’re out here down 27 in a playoff game. Most people watching on TV probably thought it was over. But inside (TIAA) Bank (Field), it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was still with us, still getting crazy loud and waving their towels and trying to pump us up.
“Your energy in that moment, it meant a lot.”
Lawrence praised his teammates and coaches for the comeback against Los Angeles, and no matter how “cliché” it sounds, he wrote that this team has “no quit” in it. He noted that he didn’t want to be writing this letter from home and would rather be preparing for another game with his team. But his love for his squad is evident.
“The culture that everyone in our room helped build, the work that we put in all year — that’s why we came back against the Chargers (in the Wild Card game),” Lawrence wrote. “It wasn’t because of some game plan switch or anything like that. It was because we had us. And us, our guys, we have no quit. You can call that cliché if you want, I don’t care. I was there. I’ve lived it. I know what I’ve seen. I know what we did.”
After his rookie season did not go as planned, and Lawrence struggled and took a while to adjust to the NFL before finding his footing, he was aware of the narrative around him: “Bust.”
Lawrence didn’t let that label impact him, though. It wasn’t true, and instead, he worked hard to improve his play. While Lawrence initially said he didn’t have a chip on his shoulder after being drafted No. 1 overall, he later believed he did have “something to prove” following the 2021 campaign.
Lawrence leaned on his wife, Marissa, during the tough times, and they realized they were in Jacksonville “for a reason.” They are here to help turn the Jacksonville franchise into a winner, something that has escaped this organization for many years. Lawrence noted he “felt the pain of the city” and he wants to be part of the solution.
“We really do feel that (we’re here for a reason),” Lawrence wrote about himself and Marissa. “We feel like Jacksonville is our home now. And we badly want to be a part of turning this thing around — all the way around. So I knew I just had to block the noise out.”
Lawrence once again praised Jaguars fans. There is a narrative from fans of other teams around the league that the Jaguars don’t have many fans, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Lawrence noted how fierce and loyal Jaguars fans are, and how “hungry” they are for a winner.
“I don’t think people realize how die-hard our fans are — how much Jags fans love this team, and how hungry they are for a winner,” Lawrence penned. “They just want us to be great. They want to get there. I felt that.”
Lawrence also noted that the team wasn’t just happy to be there against the Chiefs in the second round of the playoffs. That was a game the Jaguars expected to win, and had a “real chance” to do so. Lawrence and his teammates were “mad” about it, but will “use it as fuel to get better for next year.”
In fact, Lawrence plans on his team making a Super Bowl — something Jacksonville has never done in 28 seasons of competition as an NFL franchise — in the coming years.
“It feels good,” Lawrence said about the team’s turnaround. “It makes me really proud to be a Jaguar.
“So, Duval — thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with us. For believing in us. We couldn’t have done it without you. That playoff win, that feeling, I want that forever. I promise it was just the beginning.
“And I promise that where these last two teams are going (the Super Bowl) — that’s where we’re planning on being.
It was always the Jags.”
With Lawrence at quarterback and Pederson as the head coach, surrounded by the other talent on the team, the future looks bright in Jacksonville.