Unfortunately for the quarterback-coach duo, the NFL preseason is a time for overreactions. Meyer is playing into that fact, and his early reactions to his team’s offense could quickly create problems for Lawrence, the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Urban Meyer is already concerned with the Jaguars’ offense
Lawrence might have the golden arm and the luscious locks, but even he couldn’t immediately turn the Jaguars’ offense into anything resembling a competent unit.
The Jaguars gained only 89 yards of offense across the first 30 minutes of their preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns. Lawrence started and completed six of his nine pass attempts for 71 yards. The rookie also took two sacks for 12 yards in the Jaguars’ 23-13 loss.
When Meyer spoke with reporters after the loss, he didn’t exactly take the glass-half-full approach. The first-year head coach said Lawrence held the ball too long at times for reasons he didn’t understand.
The Jaguars committed seven penalties and had numerous other errors, including a missed block by quarterback-turned-tight end Tim Tebow. A reporter asked Meyer if the early struggles concerned him, especially after the Jaguars’ starters failed to do much offensively.
“Concerning? Yeah, everything’s concerning,” Meyer said, according to ProFootballTalk. “It’s my job to be concerned.”
Meyer needs to make sure he doesn’t go too far in trying to fix the offense
Again, the preseason is a time for overreactions. If Lawrence threw two touchdowns in the opener, he’d already be hailed as the next sure thing. Conversely, social media users would start throwing around the dreaded “bust” word if the Browns intercepted him twice on Saturday night.
Meyer is justified in having those early concerns, but he needs to remember he’s not in college anymore. If Justin Fields made a bad read in a September game against Miami (Ohio), chances were that he’d have learned from it by the time the Buckeyes played Penn State, a far tougher opponent, later that fall.
Meyer has to be patient and realize that the results aren’t going to come within the next few weeks. There is no instant gratification in the NFL, even with the extremely talented Lawrence at quarterback. The Jaguars are a year removed from losing 15 straight games and, even after entirely revamping the organization, still aren’t considered playoff contenders entering the 2021 season.
The worst thing that Meyer can do right now is panic and try to rush the results. If Lawrence held the ball too long, this is the time to fix it and work with him. It’s better for the rookie to go through his growing pains in the preseason and improve on those flaws now instead of him dealing with these problems — and a subsequent mental toll — come October.
Put simply; the Jaguars need to take things one day at a time. Worrying too much and trying to make the square pegs fit into round and triangle-sized holes is a surefire way to destroy Lawrence’s development and confidence before the season even starts.
Meyer can always hit the trade market if he’s so concerned
Again, there is no instant gratification in the NFL. But if Meyer wants to come close, he and Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke can always try making a preseason splash.
There’s no guarantee that the New Orleans Saints will keep wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has struggled with injuries over the last year and has hinted he’s not happy with the organization. It’s also worth noting the two-time first-team All-Pro selection played for Meyer at Ohio State. As of publication, SportsLine gave the Jaguars +400 odds (bet $100 and win $500) to have Thomas on the roster when the trade deadline arrives on November 2.
The same applies to other positions. Maybe Meyer wants another piece on the offensive line or an older tight end. This isn’t college where the Buckeyes were locked into their roster, save any dismissals or players transferring out, once the season began.
Rocky times might be ahead for Lawrence and Meyer, but at least they know they’re in it together. If the duo wins a Super Bowl together, they can at least always look back to a preseason opener when it appeared the sky would fall and crush both of their dreams.