It’s been a tough year for every rookie quarterback who has taken the field this year—as is to be expected for any quarterback being thrown into the fire in the first year of his transition. Former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is among those who have experienced highs and lows so far this season for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Outside of the typical adversity faced by a rookie, he’s also been put in an environment where some people who are supposed to function as leadership figures have caused distractions.
Despite being forced to lead a problemed team that still doesn’t have its first win, Lawrence himself has made real improvements. At first this season, we saw some flashes of what looked like an uncareful gunslinger—ill-advised throws and overthrows. But, to be fair, he is a rookie and things like that are so often a part of the growing process—big mistakes in some form or another are made by just about every first-year player. As dominant as Lawrence was in college—and really any time before that as well—he is not immune to error, and we’ve seen him make some as a pro. But there have also been a number of good moments.
From Game 1, Lawrence has shown a high level of poise and presence, solid ball placement, and we’ve seen what he can do with his Howitzer of an arm. One thing that Lawrence got some credit for but wasn’t talked about as much as some of his other traits was the level of mobility he has—something we’ve seen him use to either extend a play or move the chains this season.
The game against the Cincinnati Bengals was the biggest of the season for him, and that had more to do with being settled in than anything else. For the first time this season, Lawrence looked comfortable and less affected by the “rookie rattles” (which are easy to have when you’re playing for a team like the Jaguars). Were there some missed opportunities and plays where he could have thrown the ball better? Absolutely. But overall, Lawrence took care of the football (not putting passes in harm’s way) and was a driving force in giving his team a chance to win.
Lawrence, who worked the pocket well, completed 17-of-24 passes (70.8%) for 204 yards, also carrying the ball eight times for 36 yards with one touchdown. Though he was no Lamar Jackson by the rushing numbers (or by any means—they’re entirely different players), the film of this game reflects how he was able to run it in important situations for Jacksonville. It paid dividends, and points on some plays.
He’s not a quarterback that frequently has an issue with bailing from the pocket early, but one that seems to be getting a better feel by the game for when to leave it and make something out of nothing.
The main takeaway from all of this is that Lawrence is improving by the game and gaining a more steady sense of composure. He looks like the quarterback we saw at Clemson. If he continues on this track, he’ll continue to give Jacksonville the chance to add to the win column—even with all the things around him that make it difficult to do so.
Lawrence and the Jaguars will have a chance to get their first victory of 2021 as they return home to face the Tennessee Titans (2-2) on Sunday.