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Drive by Drive: Trevor Lawrence v. Atlanta Falcons

Drive by Drive: Trevor Lawrence

The stats on number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence are bad: he’s arguably been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this season. But are his struggles entirely on him or is the team around him to blame? What about the coaching? Let’s dive into the tape of Sunday’s loss against Atlanta to find out… 

First Drive: Starting on own 14, 10:03 left in 1st quarter, tied 0-0  

Jacksonville starts with a WR screen to Laviska Shenault and then a play-action bootleg where Lawrence hits Shenault on a short crosser for a quick first down. Two quick, easy completions to get Lawrence going. Two James Robinson runs set up a third-and-four and Lawrence connected with Marvin Jones on an out-route just past the sticks for a second opening-drive first down. Following a false start and a Robinson run, the Jags are behind the chains at second-and-ten. Lawrence takes a deep shot and he and the WR aren’t on the same page and the throw sails out of bounds. Third-and-ten, Atlanta brings the blitz and Lawrence does a nice job stepping up into a collapsing pocket, but another miscommunication with a WR leads to another incomplete pass. Jags punt. 

Second Drive: Starting on own 29, 38 seconds left in the first quarter, Atlanta leads 7-0 

The Jags come out with a seven-play drive that includes five runs by James Robinson that gain 28 yards. Lawrence was asked to throw on a first-and-ten and connected with TE Dan Arnold on another quick out-route. He’s then asked to throw again on a second-and-seven from the Atlanta 35 … and he’s intercepted. It appears like he believes he drew an offside on Atlanta because he chucks it into double-coverage around the goal line, which leads to an easy pick. The Atlanta DE did jump, slightly, but not across the line and there was a flag thrown, but it was for an illegal formation on Jacksonville. The interception stands

Third Drive: Starting on own 20, 8:27 left in the second quarter, Atlanta leads 7-0

Lawrence hits his checkdown on first down after again nicely stepping up into the pocket and surveying the field, which picks up a medium gain. However, Robinson fumbles on the next play, Falcons’ ball. 

Fourth Drive: Starting on own 27, 6:40 left in the second quarter, Atlanta leads 14-0 

Now down two scores, the Jags start with an RPO, and Lawrence keeps and runs for eight yards. Another rollout completion picks up a first down. Following an incomplete pass on first down, Lawrence takes a sack and fumbles on second down. Fortunately for him, it bounces right to a teammate. Lawrence felt the pressure but hung on to the ball too long trying to make a play; he needed to get rid of that ball, or just take the sack without fumbling. Now 3rd and 22, Lawrence hits Shenault on a short cross and Shenault uses his athleticism to YAC his way to a first down on third-and-forever, and the Jags are now in Atlanta territory. 

Three consecutive runs and a screen that loses a yard set up a 2nd and 11 from the Falcons 30 and Lawrence hits Marvin Jones who makes an incredible one-handed catch for 21 yards. It’s a good throw by Lawrence into tight coverage, but a better catch by Jones. Now first and goal from just inside the ten and the Jags try another quick pass to Shenault that goes nowhere. Next play, Lawrence faces a free-rusher off the edge and he quickly gets rid of it to an open out-route by the slot receiver, but the receiver was late getting off the ball and then late getting his head around, which leads to an incompletion; it was a good, smart throw and a possible touchdown if caught. Now third-and-goal from around the ten, Lawrence steps up and hits Laquon Treadwell short of the goal line as the Falcons defense is guarding the paint. Despite a fourth-and-goal from three-yard-line down 14 points, the Jags elect to kick. 14-3, Atlanta. 

Fifth Drive: Starting at midfield, 19 seconds left in the half, Atlanta leads 14-3 

A quick Matt Ryan INT gives the Jags a chance to score points with 19 seconds left in the first half. Jones makes another nice grab on an off-target throw by Lawrence to pick up nine yards on first down, but Lawrence goes incomplete on three-straight passes, including a fourth-down Hail Mary as time expires. Falcons get pressure on all three plays. 

Sixth Drive: Starting on own 21, 15:00 left in the third quarter, Atlanta leads 14-3

The Jags get the ball to start the second half and punt after five plays. They pick up a first down on another quick Lawrence pass across the middle, but ultimately fail on a third-and-three when Marvin Jones drops a potential first down pass. 

Seventh Drive: Starting on own 25, 7:47 left in the third quarter, Atlanta leads 21-3

Another Falcons TD puts the Jags in a big hole. Unfortunately, they go three-and-out. Lawrence is unable to hit Jones on a deep cross thanks to a good play by the defender. On third down, Lawrence is forced to check it down and the receiver comes up short. Punt.  

Eighth Drive: Starting on own 28, 4:06 left in the third quarter, Atlanta leads 21-3 

Jacksonville starts with play-action and Lawrence has all day, and a receiver finally comes open; he hits Treadwell near the sideline for 14 yards. The running game gets going, pushing the Jags into Falcons territory and then Lawrence hits James O’Shaughnessy for 21 yards inside the Atlanta 10. Great throw by Lawrence; he fires it into a tight window just past the reach of the underneath defender and just hard enough to keep the deep defender from closing. Then he hits Tavon Austin in the back of the endzone for the Jags first TD of the game. Clean pocket, Lawrence had time and made a nice throw to Austin, again high enough to beat the underneath coverage and hard enough to keep the deep defender from getting there. Lawrence throws a quick out to O’Shaughnessy on the two-point conversion to convert, 21-11 Atlanta. Three consecutive strong throws by the rookie, who finally had some time to operate. 

Ninth Drive: Starting on own 10, 12:57 left in the fourth quarter, Atlanta leads 21-11

A couple short throws with nice YAC quickly moved the Jaguars to midfield. Lawrence then scrambles for the first time in the game, setting up a short third down that Carlos Hyde picks up. Another play-action rollout and Lawrence hits an open Treadwell near the sticks and Laquon does the rest to bring Jacksonville just inside the red zone. Three-straight runs, one by Lawrence, set up a first and goal from the six. Unfortunately, the Jags take a holding penalty on a first-down run, pushing them back to the 16, and essentially ending the hopes for a TD. Three-straight incompletions (thanks to more Atlanta pressure and Jags receivers failing to get open) and the Jags kick the field goal to make it a one-score game, 21-14. 

Tenth Drive: Starting on own 18, 2:13 left in the game, Atlanta leads 21-14

Lawrence gets the ball with just over two minutes left, needing a touchdown to tie. The Jags get into a quick third-and-seven, and Lawrence hits Jones right at the sticks to pick it up. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of the drive as Lawrence throws four consecutive incompletions and the ball goes over on downs. First throw was a slight miscommunication with the TE, second down was a catchable checkdown dropped by Carlos Hyde, third down was a high throw by Lawrence that was also behind Treadwell and fourth down was nowhere near the target, who again appears to be in a different spot than Trevor was anticipating. Atlanta runs out the clock and the game is over. 

Final thoughts:

A mixed-bag from the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He shows excellent poise in the pocket for a young quarterback, navigating it well and moving around while keeping his eyes down the field. Despite his athleticism, he only scrambled once despite the intense pressure, as he looks to make plays with his arm first and his legs a distant second. It’s hard to evaluate him because the Jags roster is so bereft of talent; the offensive line allowed defenders in the backfield all game long and Jaguars’ receivers don’t consistently get open. 

When Lawrence had time, he made some really excellent throws that show why he’s the future of the franchise. But he’s a rookie and he definitely missed some opportunities with throws that were off-target. There were also several miscommunications with receivers, but it’s hard to know where the blame lies there, though there should be less of that in Week 12. The coaches definitely tried to help Trevor with a lot of quick passes and play-action that got him on the move, though I wasn’t overly impressed with his throws on-the-run which were continually talked up by the broadcast as a major strength of his. The ball got where it needed to go, but in many cases weren’t in a position to allow the receiver to make his YAC. He’s a young QB playing on a bad team, and there were some flashes of brilliance in there, but he lacks the polish and consistency of fellow first-rounder Mac Jones. The arm talent is undeniable, and his ceiling is certainly higher than that of someone like Jones, but it will be hard to thrive in this environment in 2021.