JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been a turning point in his first three starts.
But throwing seven interceptions and losing two fumbles didn’t shake the confidence of the first pick.
“You learn from each of them, but you can’t let it change the way you play,” Lawrence said after Sunday’s 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at TIAA Bank Field. “In terms of making better decisions, that has to change, for sure, but I have to be the same guy. I still have to go out and play. I can’t play shy, and not take hits or chances. . “
Lawrence threw two interceptions – including one on a flea flicker that cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. returned 29 yards for a touchdown – and lost two fumbles to the Cardinals. He is now the fifth quarterback since the 1970 merger to throw multiple interceptions in each of his first three games, joining Blake Bortles (2014), Peyton Manning (1998), Troy Aikman (1989) and Jim Zorn (1976).
Lawrence’s seven interceptions in his first three starts are tied for third in NFL history by a No.1 pick, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The only players with more are Manning (eight) and Alex Smith (eight in 2005).
However, not all turnovers are his fault. On Sunday, he threw a straight throw at the hands of tight end Jacob Hollister. Hollister missed the catch and the ball bounced straight off Murphy. One of Lawrence’s fumbles against the Cardinals came when running back James Robinson moved to help with a block and hit Lawrence’s arm.
“Trevor is a unique individual, and he fought hard,” said coach Urban Meyer. “When something isn’t there, throw it away and one of them wasn’t his fault. One of them was an abandoned pass. You can’t do that with a young quarterback- back. You can’t do that. It’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable with an old quarterback, but you can’t do that, it’s driving me nuts.
“I know what he will be like tomorrow. The same way he was last week. He’s the most consistent, one of the most consistent players I have met.”
Lawrence has completed 54% of his passes for 669 yards and five touchdowns this season. He dropped a touchdown pass to DJ Chark in the back of the end zone in the second quarter against the Cardinals after looking down the middle and then to the right. So there were a lot of positives, and Lawrence didn’t think about changing his way of thinking or approaching the game.
“I am the same person,” he said. “Like I said, that’s not going to change. I think that’s part of the reason I’m here. I’m going to be the same person every day.”
It’s not like Lawrence can’t bounce back from that rough start. Manning threw 28 interceptions as a rookie and ended up in the Hall of Fame. Hall of Famer Aikman threw 36 interceptions in his first two seasons (just 20 touchdowns) and led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins.
Smith returned the ball 10 times in his first three games and could still play had it not been for a catastrophic knee injury. Zorn threw 27 interceptions as a rookie and played 10 more seasons.
So no one should write the old Clemson standout after just three games.
“The big picture, other than the score – leadership, intangibles, work ethic, character, desire to be great, support from teammates, support from other teammates [is great]Meyer said. “He’s a very unique guy. […] I’ve been fortunate enough to coach elite players, elite players, and he’s one of the most elite, just the way he behaves.
“The players see what I see. They see what the world is going to see, and he’s one hell of a player who cares deeply about Jacksonville, cares deeply about his teammates. Really, he’s a refreshing guy to be around everyone. days, and he’ll get better, I guarantee that.