Jaguars Rumors: 'Healthy Respect' for How Trevor Lawrence Handled Urban Meyer Firing

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 20, 2021

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 19: Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars throws the ball during pregame warm-ups before the game against the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field on December 19, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Coaches around the NFL are reportedly impressed with how Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence handled the drama surrounding former head coach Urban Meyer, who was fired Thursday after less than a year with the franchise.

"Based on the coaches I've talked to, inside and outside the Jaguars' organization, there's a pretty healthy respect for how Trevor Lawrence has handled the last week," Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported Monday. "I had one tell me Lawrence's ability to weather everything that comes his way reminded him of Troy Aikman in 1989."

It's been a rocky rookie season for Lawrence, the first overall pick in the 2021 draft. He's completed 58.1 percent of his throws for 2,945 yards with nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions through his first 14 NFL appearances.

For a quarterback viewed as a generational talent on the level of former No. 1 picks like Aikman, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, those numbers may appear concerning.

Yet, none of those eventual superstars took the league by storm in their debut campaigns either. Here's a look at their numbers:

  • Aikman: 9 TD, 18 INT in 11 games (1989)
  • Manning: 26 TD, 28 INT in 16 games (1998)
  • Luck: 23 TD, 18 INT in 16 games (2012)

So it's too soon to start worrying about Lawrence's production, especially when you consider the never-ending drama that surrounded Meyer during his brief stint as the Jags' coach. It wasn't an environment conducive to developing a first-year quarterback.

Lawrence told reporters Thursday the constant noise, both inside and outside the organization, played a role in a season that saw the Jags drop to 2-12 with a loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday:

"I wouldn't believe you if you told me this is how this year was going to go. ... I think it [the coaching change] brings a little bit of clarity to the guys in the locker room. I wouldn't say relief, but I would say just bring some clarity and some direction moving forward.
"You know, we really want to go and finish the season strong and to be honest, it's been hard to last the last week with everything going on. And there's a lot of things being stirred up I think by the outside, too. That didn't help [and] made things a lot worse, but also everything that's going on.
"It's hard to be focused and have all your attention and efforts going towards winning the game when there's so many things going on."

A new direction, something different than what one NFL coach described to Mike Sando of The Athletic as Meyer's "tough-guy disciplinarian stuff" that was destined to fail at the sport's highest level, should help everybody on the roster, including Lawrence.

Jacksonville will likely seek out an offensive-minded coach to replace Meyer in an effort to jump-start their young signal-caller's development.

The question is whether the Jags will be able to attract a high-end candidate. Breer reported it's not a lock the best options available will want to work for team owner Shad Khan:

"Even with Trevor Lawrence in place, the Jaguars' job isn't as attractive as it was a year ago, when the team was flush with draft picks and cap space. Yes, there's still money that can be spent, but the war chest of picks isn't nearly as full, and last year's free agents and draftees are on the front end of contracts. Also, you've got Shad Khan himself, who's gotten the benefit of the doubt a lot, but hasn't accomplished much in a decade of ownership. It's fair to have questions on that if you're a candidate, looking at a boss who hasn't been the most engaged owner in the league to begin with."

Jacksonville has made the playoffs just once since Khan finalized his purchase of the organization in January 2012.

That said, a franchise quarterback is still the most important factor in whether a team has a chance to seriously contend. The Jaguars hope to have that in Lawrence, and that should attract interest from plenty of candidates, even though the QB needs time and the rest of the roster needs work.

The Jags are in desperate need of a strong offseason, highlighted by the right coaching hire, but first they must wrap up 2021. They have three games left beginning Sunday when they visit the New York Jets in a game with major No. 1 overall pick implications.