The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Miami Dolphins 23-20 in London with a walk-off field goal to earn their first regular season win this season.
Jacksonville continues to be one of the weakest teams in the league with a 1-5 record, though new coach Urban Meyer will hope this game can provide a much-needed confidence boost.
This is an embarrassing loss for Miami, a team who was on the brink of a playoff berth last year with a 10-6 record. Under young head coach Brian Flores and former fifth overall pick Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins were hoping to build on their previous campaigns. On the whole, Miami have been poor and hugely underwhelming.
Take nothing away from Jacksonville though. A win is a win, and this could be the necessary platform for the young Jaguars to spring from.
Lawrence had one of his better days at the office, throwing no interceptions and a touchdown.
The former number one overall pick has struggled in a raw team this year, though he undoubtedly has potential.
This game concluded this year’s NFL London series after the New York Jets lost to the Atlanta Falcons 27-20 in the previous week.
Jacksonville’s season has been ugly so far, though it is far from unexpected.
They held the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and, to no one’s surprise, took generational talent Lawrence, the signal-caller out of Clemson.
Lawrence’s addition to Jacksonville was supposed to mark a new era for a franchise which has struggled to maintain any success over the past decade.
The Clemson prospect was hailed as the greatest college quarterback since Andrew Luck and is often discussed among the top five quarterback college prospects of all time.
Not only does Lawrence bring elite quarterback play to Jacksonville for, he also brings the winning mentality that is often part of the discourse on quarterbacks. Players like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, the all-time NFL greats, have this innate ability to win, and Lawrence proved he had the same leadership qualities after going undefeated in the regular season at college football level.
This season is one to take stock and gauge Lawrence and the young Jaguars
With that said, Lawrence has been unspectacular so far. The Jaguars have suffered harsh defeats, with Lawrence making many “rookie” mistakes.
This is important to note when it comes to Lawrence, or any player fresh out of college – they are still rookies. Despite being praised as the greatest college prospect of recent time, any player would still take time to adjust from college football to the NFL.
Added on to this, Lawrence is the heart of the Jaguars team, and does not have too much support around him. As a quarterback leading an NFL team, despite being a rookie, it must be said that he is doing a remarkable job, in spite of the team’s current standing.
If Lawrence continues to improve through this season, expect the Jaguars to start investing even more heavily into the Lawrence project over the next offseason, even if the play-offs this year are out of the question.
The current NFL season should therefore be rather viewed as a way to test Lawrence and find out what needs addressing across the rest of the team.
Taking examples such as Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Carson Wentz or even Jared Goff (at the Rams), their franchises were able to flourish when the team could start to build around their superstar quarterback. Some experiments failed, but they all found some success in the second and third years of their young quarterbacks’ careers.
The bottom line is this – the Jaguars will have an unspectacular year this year, but expect them to start building around Lawrence more after this developmental season.
That is assuming; however, nothing goes too far awry. While Lawrence has not given us any major cause for concern, his development could (in theory) stagnate.
A more plausible potential hurdle could be coach Meyer though. Over six games, Meyer has received a lot of heat for both his on-field decisions as well as some off-field scandals.
Given the manner in which Meyer left Ohio State University, many people criticised the Jaguars for his appointment into the pro game, saying he is far from a long-term solution.
If there is an imminent staff overhaul in Jacksonville, it remains to be seen how it affects the team and, in particular, Lawrence. But stability is always good for young quarterbacks (provided it is a positive kind).
The Jaguars face some tough issues over the next few seasons, though their path is not unprecedented. The Browns, Cardinals and Bengals have all undergone a rebuild in the last few years and are all trending up.
This season is one to take stock and gauge Lawrence and the young Jaguars. Expect the team to be progressively more competitive over the next couple of years if things go right.