The Jacksonville Jaguars had a Week 1 that many of their fans would rather forget as they fell to the Houston Texans Sunday by a score of 37-21. Of course, the biggest storyline of the game was Trevor Lawrence, though, who made his rookie debut by going 28-of-51 for 332 yards, three touchdowns, and three picks.
Simply put, it was not the outing many fans were hoping from in his first regular season game, though there were some elite throws sprinkled into the mix. However, there are some people in the football community who feel his performance was at least average, like ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who gave Lawrence a “C” grade for his debut.
Let’s start with the good: Lawrence’s first two touchdown passes reminded us that everything will be OK in Jacksonville, eventually. Evaluators noticed Lawrence’s beautiful TD strikes to tight end Chris Manhertz and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. were big league throws that only gifted passers such as Lawrence can make — especially the 41-yarder to Chark, in which Lawrence cut it loose off play-action with a bullet between two defenders. In all, Lawrence was 6-of-9 on play-action, and his 11.1 yards per attempt on such plays ranked fifth among all NFL signal-callers.
The rest was pretty messy, leaving questions about Jacksonville’s offensive identity under coach Urban Meyer. The Texans dropped back into coverage and watched the Jaguars squirm. Lawrence was blitzed four times on 52 dropbacks, a rate of 7.7%, the third lowest total since 2006, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Jacksonville didn’t use the running game to keep the Texans honest, either, finishing with 78 yards on 16 carries. It was playing from behind, to be sure, but that’s hardly a balanced recipe for a young quarterback.
My grade: C. Lawrence pressed and missed several throws but also had little help, and the big-play ability was on display. He will improve and eventually lift the Jacksonville offense.
While the near future could be filled with adversity, it’s good to see Fowler echo the sentiments of many who watch Lawrence Sunday’s game in terms of how bright his future is.
Unlike Fowler, though, CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso wasn’t overly impressed. While he spoke positively about Lawrence’s throws early throws to Marvin Jones Jr. and DJ Chark Jr., but wasn’t a fan of Lawrence’s first and last picks to safety Justin Reid and linebacker Christian Kirksey, respectfully.
As for Trapasso’s thoughts, here is what he had to offer about April’s No. 1 overall pick.
Summary: Lawrence’s debut was ugly. Close to an absolute nightmare. All afternoon, Lawrence struggled with accuracy, even on easy throws, and did not handle pressure — by making smart decisions while under duress — for most of the outing. In fairness, he was pressured frequently and seemed to abandon some pockets because he was thinking of the pass rush instead of surveying downfield.
Season Grade: D+
After the game, Lawrence told the media that he was disappointed by the loss, but understood that the team had to focus on the next big task in the Denver Broncos. With that being the case, Sunday’s game will be even more interesting for the rookie as a successful game agains one of the league’s top defenses could go a long way for his early development.