- Covered University of Florida for 13 seasons for ESPN.com and Florida Times-Union
- Graduate of Jacksonville University
- Multiple APSE award winner
HOUSTON — The NFL debut of coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence was certainly not what Jacksonville Jaguars fans had hoped.
In fact, it was pretty bad.
In a 37-21 loss to the lowly Houston Texans, the Jaguars had trouble lining up and making sure they had the correct number of players in the huddle, got called for four holding penalties, threw three interceptions and had six dropped passes. It was an unexpected performance after an offseason full of optimism.
But Meyer said he and the locker room aren’t shell-shocked by what was the franchise’s 16th consecutive loss dating back to a season-opening victory over Indianapolis in 2020.
“I don’t really know that word (shell-shocked) other than we’ve all got our ass kicked before,” Meyer said. “Let’s tighten up and go. I believe in that team. I believe in our staff. Come back to work. Going to earn your captain’s stripes and leadership stripes as a coach and leaders on the team. But I believe in those guys.”
Sunday marked the first three-interception game of Lawrence’s career — including high school and college. It was the first time Meyer lost a season opener as a head coach (he was 16-0 before Sunday at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State), and the first time he lost his first game with a new team.
It was also the first time Lawrence has ever had a losing record as a starting quarterback.
“It obviously sucks,” Lawrence said. “Losing’s always hard, especially when you feel like you’re prepared and had a great week and really think we were ready. Just obviously didn’t play well. It starts with me. I played really bad tonight. Disappointing for sure.
“I still believe in this team. I still know what we’re capable of. We did some good things. We started off with some penalties, three-and-out, but then after that we had a couple good drives, we’re hitting some big plays. There’s a lot of good things there and we’ve got to keep doing those and learn from the bad. We’ve got to watch it and learn from it for sure, but then flip the page. It’s a long season. We can’t let this snowball. We’ve got to move on and go win next week.”
Most of the Jaguars’ problems were self-inflicted. They were penalized for illegal formation three times (one was accepted, one was overridden by a roughing the passer penalty, and another was declined for a holding penalty). They dropped six passes, including two by DJ Chark (who had one of the illegal formation penalties) and two by James Robinson.
There also was an illegal participation penalty for 12 men in the offensive huddle.
“It’s inexcusable the things that need to be fixed,” Meyer said. “Three preseason games you’d think we’d have that fixed so that’s something that we’re going to … I would guesstimate you would not see that again. That’s inexcusable.”
Then there were Lawrence’s three interceptions. He owned all of them, saying the first came on a bad throw, the second on a bad decision and the third after he lost sight of the middle linebacker and tried to force a throw.
“It’s either a bad throw or a bad decision when you throw a pick,” Lawrence said. “Bad decisions, those are the ones that’ll get you for sure.
“Turnovers, it’s all me. You’re not going to win many games with three turnovers, especially when the margin was minus-3 for us. Just not good.”
It wasn’t all bad for Lawrence, though. His first NFL touchdown went to tight end Chris Manhertz, he hit Chark down the left sideline (he kept the ball outside so the safety couldn’t get there) for a 41-yard TD and he hooked up with Marvin Jones for a 4-yard score late in the game.
Lawrence finished 28-of-51 passing for 332 yards, as the Jaguars were forced to abandon the run after falling behind 27-7 late in the first half.
“I know I’m going to respond well. I’m made of the right stuff so I don’t have any doubt about that,” Lawrence said. “But it is frustrating and I hate losing. Hate losing. So we’re going to get better, but that’s all you can do is watch the tape, learn from it, get better, move on.
“We’ve just got to stick together. That’s the main thing. That’s kind of in the past, that’s over, it is what it is. We’ve got to move on to next week and stick together.”
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