As the No. 1 overall pick a year ago and a presumed NFL franchise QB since his freshman year at Clemson, Trevor Lawrence looked like anything but a generational talent in his first season with the Jaguars.
Living through the sideshow circus that was the short-lived Urban Meyer error in Jacksonville – complete with lap dances and AEW appearances by the overmatched formerly successful collegiate coach – Lawrence struggled in his first taste of professional life.
Lawrence won just three of his starts as a rookie. He completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (12) while being sacked 32 times and registering a 71.9 passer rating.
At least in part, instability on the coaching staff kept Lawrence from maximizing his ability.
It was bad. By extension he was bad.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville-born No. 15 overall pick Mac Jones landed in what was universally considered the perfect spot in New England. He had the stability of Bill Belichick and longtime, proven offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to lean on.
Unsurprisingly, Jones had a solid if unspectacular rookie year. Whether you believe McDaniels molded or coddled or even held Jones back, it worked. The results spoke for themselves with a 10-win season to return to the playoffs.
Individually Jones earned a trip to the Pro Bowl completing nearly 68 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions to notch an impressive 92.5 rookie passer rating.
Jones’ rookie season was a success for him and his team.
It was a good situation and the results were good.
Fast forward a year, and oh how things have changed for the two young quarterbacks as they embark on their sophomore seasons, one looking to rebound and one hoping to take his game to the next level.
In Jacksonville Lawrence is clearly surrounded by much more stability and much more talent than a year ago. His new boss, Doug Pederson, has plenty of experience as both a player and a coach that makes him an expert in the quarterback position. His Super Bowl ring speaks volumes.
If Lawrence doesn’t make positive strides in his development in Year 2, he’ll rightfully be in the crosshairs of criticism. No longer can he excuse his own play by pointing to the coaching staff or the players around him. Nope, it’s all on Lawrence to prove he’s as good as he’s supposed to be.
Meanwhile, in New England Jones is now the one facing concerns in regards to the type of coaching he’s getting. While no one would go so far as calling Belichick’s staff a circus, putting former defensive coordinator and failed Lions coach Matt Patricia and former special teams coach and failed Giants boss Joe Judge in charge of Jones’ development and the New England offense is certainly curious at best.
Jones admitted this spring to spending time “teaching” his supposed QB coach Judge.
While Patricia appeared to be the Patriots primary offensive play-caller this summer, both Judge and Belichick had a hand in the process at various points.
Oh, and Jones has taken to focusing on the “process” of what’s a new offense this summer in the wake of McDaniels leaving to become the Raiders head coach. Jones has avoided fixating on the “results” because those have been pretty poor at times leaving the competitive young passer visibly frustrated on both the practice and preseason game field.
The reality is that the world around Jones is anything but stable right now. The scheme. The coaches. It’s all different than what he succeeded with a year earlier.
Quarterbacks inherently get too much credit when they win, when they get their job done. That was probably the case with Jones a year ago when he landed in the perfect spot for a young passer working under the watchful eye of Belichick and McDaniels.
Quarterbacks also get too much blame oftentimes when the losses pile up or the offense struggles. That was probably the case with Lawrence a year ago when he landed in a horrific spot under Meyer.
Now, the two young players may be in for a bit of a role reversal in 2022.
Jones is the one facing significant questions about the coaching he’s receiving and the position he’ll be put in this fall.
And Lawrence looks like he could be in a nice spot to bounce back and perform at a level more in line with expectations in his sophomore campaign.
NBC’s Peter King actually predicts that Jones’ Patriots and Lawrence’s Jaguars will finish 2022 with matching 7-10 records. It would be a three-game regression for New England and a four-game improvement for Jacksonville.
Jones will probably get at least some of the blame even if he probably shouldn’t.
Lawrence will likely get much of the credit, even if there will likely be plenty of other factors at play.
Life comes at you fast in the NFL, especially at the quarterback position.
Jones and Lawrence may be about to learn that lesson.