Here’s how the critics graded Trevor Lawrence’s Week 4 performance against Cincinnati

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jacksonville may have taken another tally in the loss column on Thursday night, but in a game where it led most of the way against a 2-1 team, there were certainly some positives to take away. Most notably, the play of quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Though he didn’t find the end zone through the air, he had his best game as a pro. He moved the ball well against the Bengals, and he avoided turnovers after having four against Arizona the week before.

The Jags may be in a bad spot right now after an 0-4 start and a controversial week for coach Urban Meyer, but Lawrence’s progress continues to be one of the few bright spots. After he was excoriated by the critics after his performance against Arizona, Lawrence saw much more favorable reviews this time around.

Sporting News’ Joe Rivera gave him a “B” for his improved effort on Thursday night.

Lawrence and the Jags lost Thursday night, but Lawrence looks as if he’s getting more and more comfortable as the weeks wear on and the team wears its fans out.

The Jaguars lost on a buzzer-beating field goal to 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow and the Bengals, but Lawrence had his most controlled game of his rookie season, with 17-for-24 passing, 204 yards and a rushing touchdown. It was also his first turnover-free game.

Lawrence looks and acts the part with a maturity that’s above that of the other rookie QBs. Sooner rather than later, that will result in Ws.

ESPN’s James Jackson was also kinder to Lawrence this week in his evaluation of the rookie passers.

The Jaguars nearly snapped their franchise-worst losing streak last Thursday. Jacksonville’s 14-point halftime lead against Cincinnati was the team’s largest since Week 3 of the 2019 season. Lawrence looked quite impressive in helping the Jaguars build their lead.

As halftime neared, he showed off ample athleticism on his connection with Laviska Shenault Jr. late in the second quarter. The pass covered 49.3 yards of air distance (point of throw to catch), according to NFL Next Gen Stats, marking the longest completion of Lawrence’s NFL career.

Jacksonville was eventually outscored 24-7 in the second half en route to the team’s 19th straight loss. The streak trails only the Buccaneers (26 straight from 1976-77) for the most consecutive losses in NFL history.

Fortunately for the Jaguars, Lawrence continued pushing the ball downfield in search of big plays, such as this third quarter connection with Jamal Agnew. He also finished an NFL game without a turnover for the first time in his career.

Lawrence started the season with multiple interceptions in each of his first three starts.

Darren Hartwell, who writes for NBC Boston and has been vocal about his opinion that Mac Jones is currently the best rookie quarterback, said that both Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence are starting to catch up to him. He currently lists Jones and Wilson ahead of Lawrence.

Lawrence played his first turnover-free game as an NFL starter Thursday night while completing 70.8% of his passes. The bad news? He only completed two passes over 20 yards and failed to find the end zone in a loss to the Bengals.

The No. 1 overall pick did hit Laviska Shenault on a 52-yard bomb, but he’ll need to strike the right balance of limiting turnovers and making big plays to reach the next level. Getting a new head coach wouldn’t hurt, either.

Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson wrote extensively about why Lawrence performed better in Week 4 than he did in the first three weeks, and the conclusion he came to was the average distance he was throwing the ball. The rookie was averaging 9.7 yards downfield per attempt in the first three games, which was one of the highest in the league.

The problem with that is that the longer the ball is in the air, the more likely a defender is to be able to make a play on the ball. In more efficiently looking for check-downs, he cut that down to 7.9 per attempt against the Bengals.

In a weird way, this is actually a good sign for Lawrence and the Jags long-term because it’s something that typically improves as rookie quarterbacks adjust to the NFL. The entire concept is such a well-trodden path that it has become a cliche for players to improve once the “game slows down” for them. That describes what needs to happen for Lawrence to go from where he was in the first three games to where he was against Cincinnati. When the game slows down for Lawrence, passes that were half a beat too late leaving his hand are suddenly on time, and they hit their intended window when it is still open.

It wasn’t just Lawrence that improved against the Bengals. The offense also gave him more layup opportunities than he had over the first three games, asking less of him on a down-to-down basis. They generated some easier yardage so that Lawrence could pour gas on flames that were already flickering, not be forced to start the fire all by himself.

Jacksonville clearly has a special player in Lawrence, though his adjustment to the NFL game hasn’t been quite as smooth as some had hoped. But despite a lack of talent around him, Lawrence is progressing nicely week-to-week, which should provide a glimmer of hope for Jags fans ahead of a matchup against a banged-up Tennessee Titans team on Sunday.