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After a rocky start to the preseason for top pick Trevor Lawrence, the young quarterback put up nice numbers against Dallas in a road win on Sunday.
Head coach Urban Meyer said afterward that injuries to his offensive line almost made him withhold Lawrence from the lineup altogether, but he ultimately decided that the reps were too important for chemistry and timing. Meyer had recently declared Lawrence the opening day starter, which was later cemented with the trade of top backup quarterback Gardner Minshew to Philadelphia.
“I made that decision [to play Lawrence] and there was a lot of angst about that. But he has to play,” Meyer said.
Lawrence completed 11 of 12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in three drives with the first-team offense in the Jaguars’ 34-14 victory. He led a 68-yard drive that he capped with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Pharoh Cooper and included a 38-yard throw to Phillip Dorsett on the sideline. His other touchdown was a 4-yard pass to LaViska Shenault.
“I felt good,” Lawrence said. “I thought we had a good game plan. Honestly, it’s all about execution, though. It doesn’t matter what you run, if everybody’s on the same page and everybody knows it, you’re going to play well.
“We felt that today. We were all on the same page. We communicated well. We kept it simple, and then for me just being accurate, making quick decisions, getting the ball out of my hand, and letting our guys make plays, and that was the difference. Run game was great, too, so it was awesome.”
Lawrence’s growth as a NFL starter will be one of the most-heavily scrutinized storylines of the year, though the league is riddled with rookie quarterbacks who may see significant action this season. Meyer has the difficult task of both trying to win now and develop a young quarterback who won’t be afforded a single minute of backup time to acclimate to the NFL. The coaching gig is also Meyer’s first in the NFL, which adds an extra element of intrigue, considering he is one of the best college coaches in the history of the sport.
In other words, both quarterback and head coach are major talents who are used to winning, which will make the inevitable growing pains all the more interesting to see play out. Typically NFL rookie quarterbacks do best under a well-established offensive mind, like an Andy Reid. And rarely do first-time NFL coaches ever get handed the reins without a lick of assistant coaching experience. Jacksonville’s front office has decided to toss all of the inexperience into a blender and see what comes out the other side.
Lawrence showed a few flashes of brilliance over the weekend. No doubt everyone will be watching to see how many times he can do it again this season.