Trevor Lawrence's rookie season was nothing short of a disappointment, as the 2021 top overall pick ranked among the NFL's worst starting quarterbacks in every statistical category.
ESPN's Todd McShay thinks the concern over Lawrence is a little overblown, casting blame on the Jacksonville Jaguars' ill-fated decision to hire Urban Meyer as head coach.
"It's easy to look at raw production and make conclusions, but even though Lawrence's rookie-season stat line is unimpressive, I'm not sure there are many QBs who could have even accomplished what he did, given the status of the Jacksonville team," McShay wrote. "Turmoil within the franchise, a midseason coaching change and a lack of talent around him on offense put Lawrence in a tough spot. And the Jaguars' offense system just didn't seem to fit him. Some of the struggles certainly fall on him, but we shouldn't discount his situation."
The Jaguars drafted Lawrence into a situation that was nothing short of a disaster. Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in college football history, was an utter failure over an ugly 13-game tenure as an NFL head coach. He clashed repeatedly with coaches and players, with the Jaguars finally firing him after former kicker Josh Lambo publicly accused Meyer of kicking him during warmups.
Not only did Meyer struggle with the interpersonal relationships necessary to be a head coach, but he also installed an offensive system that left Lawrence hanging out to dry. Too often the rookie quarterback was forced to make throws into tight windows as the pocket collapsed around him. Too often those throws would wind up going to the other team, with Meyer failing to make any noticeable adjustments.
By every measure, Meyer is on a very short list of worst coaching hires in NFL history.
Jacksonville also put Lawrence at a massive personnel deficit. The team surrounded its rookie quarterback with zero above-average starting NFL receivers and a poor offensive line. Meyer also seemingly had a disdain for James Robinson, a wildly effective back despite his circumstances, and intermittently benched him for an ineffective Carlos Hyde.
Lawrence finished his rookie season with 3,641 passing yards and 12 touchdowns against 17 interceptions. He carries his own share of the blame, often trying to do too much while being surrounded by too little.
The Jaguars attempted to atone for their mistakes this offseason, lavishing wideout Christian Kirk and guard Brandon Scherff with massive contracts and hiring a Super Bowl-winning coach in Doug Pederson.
While it wasn't a perfect performance by any stretch, Lawrence looked more comfortable in his preseason debut this weekend against the Cleveland Browns than at any point under Meyer last season.