The Buffalo Bills will make another trip to Florida on Sunday to battle the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is the first time the Bills face rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. To get a preview of the game, we spoke to our friend Ryan O’Bleness at Big Cat Country.
1) How would you rate Trevor Lawrence’s performance in his rookie season?
It definitely had its ups and downs. I think with the hype that Lawrence had in the league, it’s easy to forget that he’s a rookie with just seven NFL games. However, it will continue to improve. During the first three games of the season, Lawrence really struggled. He threw five touchdowns and had nine turnovers (seven interceptions and two lost fumbles) while completing only 54.2 percent of his passes and averaging 223 yards per game. He was forcing things down, not making good decisions, and not getting much help from his teammates. Here, too, you can expect growing pains for beginners.
Then, in the next three games, Lawrence looked a lot better. He threw only one interception in this section while completing 66.3 percent of his passes, increasing his passing distance to 265.3 yards per game while increasing his yards per attempt. He also showed his mobility and volatility during this period, and all of the skills for which he was so lauded for were on display in full. It looked like he was doing well.
Then what happened last week against the Seattle Seahawks and the Jaguars looked completely lost as a team. Lawrence struggled, completing 32 of 54 passes (59.3) percent for 238 yards with a touchdown (which came late in the game when the team dropped 24-0 before the score) and an interception. He had a quarterback rating of only 68.3, averaging just 4.41 yards per attempt.
I still firmly believe that Lawrence will be a great NFL quarterback for years to come, and one of the best in the league for the foreseeable future, but it will be some time before that happens.
2) Will Urban Meyer survive until next season?
For better or worse, yeah, I think we’ll probably see Urban Meyer return next season. Anything could happen by then, but Jaguars owner Shad Khan recently said he “absolutely” believes in Meyer and has the team’s desire to win under Meyer. Also, keep in mind that Khan took a risk and invested heavily in Meyer. He most likely won’t want to admit defeat this early in the process on this decision. Apparently, Meyer got off to a bumpy start to his tenure – from hiring a disgraced weight trainer accused of racist and abusive behavior (who then immediately stepped back), to seeing Meyer’s viral video in the bar, to poor management and decision-making in the game. do, etc. He still has a lot to learn about the NFL. With that in mind, he was also given a talent-depleted roster of 1-15 and should get more than seven games (and a 1-6 record) to be properly rated. That being said, his off-field behavior was a distraction for the team and his decision-making needs to get better. With Meyer getting to know the NFL better, will it be interesting to see if the Jaguars improve or decline as the season progresses, and if the team continues to lose, will Meyer be able to keep the dressing room together? Time will tell, but if not, the chances are he won’t return. For now, I’m assuming he’ll be Jacksonville’s head coach in 2022.
3) The running back room for the Jaguars got insane this season and most recently with James Robinson. How will the team try to keep the game going?
Robinson is “everyday” with a bruised heel and did not train on Wednesday. He only played in eight snaps last week in a blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks and if he is unable to play against the Bills it is a huge loss for the Jaguars as Robinson was arguably the team’s best offensive player .
When Robinson left the game last week, it was Carlos Hyde trying to close the running back void, and while playing 50 offensive snaps, Hyde only had nine carries for 32 yards (3.6 yards per carry), but he added six 40 yards catches. Hyde will likely start in Robinson’s place with Dare Ogunbowale, who checks in when Hyde needs a break. The team also exempted Devine Ozigbo from waivers this week when he returns for his second stay in Jacksonville. I’m not sure how much Ozigbo will play if he’s active, but it’s possible he’ll get a run as the team is so thin to run back after being rookie Travis Etienne for the year in preseason has lost.
The Jaguars were also beaten up along the offensive line with guard AJ Cann and center Brandon Linder in the injured reserve. Possibly without Robinson and with two starters on offense, Jacksonville could really struggle to lead the game against Buffalo’s strong defensive front.
4) It’s only season one of the Trevor Lawrence era, but what can Jacksonville do to accelerate their football team’s development?
I think the team needs to build talent around him and the coaching staff needs to put him in a better position to be successful. Jacksonville has found himself in negative game scripts many times, so play calling hasn’t done him much favors this year, and there have been some questionable staff decisions regarding staff and play calls in key situations. The Jaguars have chosen not to take any action until close of trading. Rather than getting Lawrence for immediate help or trading some veterans in for future draft picks, the Jaguars chose to stick to the current list, which is interesting because this has been a young inexperienced squad and the team as a whole since the first game of the 2020 season (2:21 in this period) won a total of two games. As I mentioned earlier, the Jaguars also have some injuries to deal with on offense. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to his health and future success to ensure that Lawrence – the team’s greatest asset – is protected at all times.
5) Who has been the Jaguars MVP so far this season and who has been the biggest disappointment in almost half of the games?
In my opinion it was Robinson so if he misses this week’s game you expect the offense to struggle. He’s recorded 88 carries for 482 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and five touchdowns while adding 18 catches for 133 yards. He gave the Jaguars the spark on the offensive when no one else seemed to be performing, and continues to be one of the great undrafted free agent stories of the NFL. Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. was also a nice addition to the Jaguars as he has a veteran presence and has caught 33 passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns.
As for disappointment, a lot of players are struggling but I have to say wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. He got a lot of hype during training camp but has impressed so far this season. With DJ Chark out for the season with an ankle injury, Shenault has had the opportunity to take on a more dominant role in the passing game, but he has not yet done so. He’s had some bad drops and hasn’t scored a touchdown this season while catching 28 passes for 319 yards (11.4 yards per reception). I still love his potential but it seems like he’s going to be an afterthought in offense after only having four goals last week – behind four other players.