The Jacksonville Jaguars’ season opener against the Houston Texans is a month away, and coach Urban Meyer still needs more convincing that No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence is ready to handle the starting job.
Meyer said Thursday that an open competition battle would continue between Lawrence and Gardner Minshew for the starting job against the Texans on Sept. 12.
Both Lawrence and Minshew will play in Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field.
Meyer, however, has not determined who will start.
”We’ll finalize that tonight,” Meyer said before Thursday’s practice. ”I asked [passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] Schotty and [offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell] Bev, but they’ll both play. A lot of it’s who’s going to be behind. We just want to make sure we have protected both those quarterbacks, but both will play.
”In college, there’s no preseason. I’m going to listen as much as I can to them. They both have experience with young quarterbacks. That’s why I hired them. They have not been good; they’ve been great.”
It could be yet another motivational ploy by Meyer to not openly declare Lawrence the starter, even though he has shown ability throughout camp to make all the throws and looks to be in command of the offense.
Before the start of camp, Meyer said he planned to create adversity for Lawrence in camp to see how he would handle it. Lawrence, regarded as a generational talent, has a stronger arm than Minshew. He’s also been more accurate, especially on tight-window throws, than Minshew.
Unfazed about competing
After Thursday’s practice, Lawrence appeared to be unfazed by Meyer not naming him the starter yet and extending the competition battle with Minshew.
“It’s competing but it’s also at the end of the day we’re on the same team,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to be the best guy for the job and to win games. At the end of the day, that’s not in my hands – decisions. I trust the coaches, we’re all on the same team, and we’re just trying to win. My mindset is just that — to win games — and be the best prepared as I can be.”
In his acclimation to the NFL during camp, Lawrence concedes he has made some mistakes with his reads. Early in camp, he struggled to complete passes in the red zone.
But as he says, as time goes on, the learning process continues.
“I had a few dumb mistakes in the past few weeks that’s just part of the learning curve, the learning process,” Lawrence said. “You know the good thing is when you make a mistake, you’re probably going to do the same thing again. That’s the way I’ve been looking at it, just trusting my guys in the building. I know what I’m doing; they know what they’re doing.”
During Thursday’s final preparations before playing the Browns on Saturday night, Lawrence completed six of his first eight passes during team drills, including a nice deep pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones.
On Wednesday, Lawrence made a low-sailing but accurate pass to tight end James O’Shaughnessy in the back of the end zone against tight coverage. For the past 10 days, Lawrence has had one consistent effort after the next.
“It’s weird he is a guy that’s going to text you a question at 9:45 at night with questions,” Schottenheimer said. “So you know he is working at it all the time. He is progressing nicely, that’s what you do with a young quarterback. There are going to be interceptions, if he keeps repeating those mistakes, then that’s how you know that he’s not listening and not making those corrections. He’s not repeating those same mistakes, so that’s when you get excited.”
But Minshew is a competitor with a no-quit attitude. He had another solid effort Thursday, completing the majority of his throws in 11-on-11 work.
“I didn’t know Minshew, but I knew his coach well, Mike Leach. I didn’t see much of him. But he’s earned my respect. I love that guy,” Meyer said. “He’s a warrior, a competitor. He’s a fighter, and I told him that. I have great respect for Minshew.”