JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Trevor Lawrence’s first play in the NFL ended in a sack that’s almost a fumble, but the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback didn’t let that move get to him.
The top pick in the 2021 draft bounced back from that bad start to make a solid, but unspectacular, debut in the Jaguars’ 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday night.
Lawrence threw for 71 yards, including a 35-yard pass to Marvin Jones Jr. on a third-down conversion, but failed to lead the starting infield to score points in both offensive series he participated in and the rookie passer acknowledged that, at times, he held the ball in his hands for too long.
However, Lawrence made good passes and left his coach feeling good, albeit with plenty of room for improvement.
“I asked (Brian Schottenheimer, passing game coordinator) how Trevor played and he said he did really well,” said Urban Meyer, coach of the Jaguars. “On that ball he threw to his left, I think it was the third down time, he really anticipated a good cut (from the receiver), escaped pressure and gave a good pass to Marvin Jones.
“(Trevor) was certainly not spectacular. We have to execute better, we must protect him better and we must have all the receivers healthy and play better, “he added.
Lawrence completed six of nine passes and according to NFL Next Gen Stats, he completed three of four passes into narrow windows, which equates to the best percentage of completions in narrow windows for a Jaguars quarterback in 2020. The offense was also a lot. more efficient with Lawrence (74 yards) than with Gardner Minshew II, who threw for 47 yards and suffered an interception and advanced 46 yards on three drives.
“I felt comfortable, right,” Lawrence said of his first NFL action. “Obviously the first play was not what I would have wanted on my first play (in the NFL), but after that, I think I did a good job. We communicated well on the line, (the linemen) did a good job protecting. At least one of those sacks was my fault, for holding the ball too long. It’s something I’ll work on. Maneuvering the stock market is something I’ve always worked on.
“Other than that, I missed a pass to Marvin, a quick route out, but other than that it felt good, we were all on the same page. Obviously there are things to polish, but I think it was a very good day, “added the passer.
The most important thing to polish for Lawrence is to get rid of the ball faster, which he did at times on quick shipments to LaViska Shenault. Meyer said he would need to watch the video to find out why Lawrence was hesitant to get rid of the ball, which sometimes happened because he waited for the receivers to uncheck.
That was the case on a long pass to Jones. No one was free at first and it wasn’t until Jones broke deep into the ground that Lawrence was able to throw the ball. Fortunately for him, Lawrence had good protection in that action. It wasn’t always the case, as tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor battled Cleveland’s second and third teams.
Lawrence was captured twice in the encounter.
“I was in the bag the whole time. In the end, I ended up escaping the pressure, ”Lawrence said of his long pass to Jones. “Marvin did a good job of standing out and reacting. Something that we have worked on in the camp is to escape the pressure. I didn’t really run out of the bag, but everyone has that mental tally of, ‘Okay, the play isn’t working out as designed. At this point, we have to make something happen. ‘
Lawrence admitted to being a bit nervous, but said they quickly faded as he felt more comfortable in his second series than in the first.
“You’re a little nervous on the first play, especially your first game in the NFL, you’re a little nervous, but after that, let’s play. I definitely felt more (comfortable) playing more.
“Anyway, I regularly get nervous before the first game of the season, so it’s very normal. I was excited, ready to hit the field. It was something I waited a long time for. It has been my dream ”, concluded Lawrence.