Say what you will about Trevor Lawrence during a mostly trying season, but the Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback still isn't afraid to speak his mind.
Lawrence made some ripples before the season when he said he didn't feel the need to manufacture motivation for himself. Then he earned some raised eyebrows in October when he semi-questioned his coaches' reservations about his QB-sneaking ability.
Now Lawrence is speaking his mind again, this time sticking up for a teammate.
Running back James Robinson was a shocking rookie standout for the 1-15 Jags in 2020 after being undrafted out of Illinois State, rumbling for 1,070 yards and catching 49 passes despite missing two games in an otherwise lost season for Jacksonville.
But this year? Robinson has been surprisingly tied down by Urban Meyer and the Jags' coaching staff, who have sometimes favored journeyman Carlos Hyde, who played for Meyer at Ohio State years ago.
Over the past two games — with the Jaguars losing both by a combined 58-21 count — Robinson had spells of 16 and 20 consecutive offensive plays, respectively, where he wasn't on the field. (The 20-play stretch on the bench against the Rams came after Robinson fumbled.)
It's not just Robinson's fantasy managers who are coming to his defense now. Lawrence spoke up for Robinson on Wednesday, saying he wants Robinson to be on the field as much as possible.
"In my eyes, obviously, I'm the one that's out, see all the pieces moving, I see the whole picture," Lawrence said this week. "Bottom line, James is one of our best players, and he's got to be on the field and we addressed it.
"I feel like we're in a good spot and the whole team, we're good. Whatever may have happened, I honestly don't even know everything that went into it."
Strong words from rookie QB could win over Jaguars teammates
It's not often that a rookie quarterback — even a No. 1 overall pick — will make a statement as strong as, "He's got to be on the field," even on a team with, technically, a rookie NFL head coach. Of course, calling Meyer that also needs to come with the caveat of said coach winning three national titles in college football.
Lawrence appears undaunted in his support, which we suspect will go a long way inside the locker room. Meyer might not be in Jacksonville for long. But Lawrence, even amid his rookie travails, isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
That's why he likely feels emboldened to speak out in defense of his teammate. Lawrence added that he's not the coach, but he wasn't afraid to tell the Jaguars his feelings for his running back.
"I'm playing the game and stuff happens on the sideline with coaching decisions," Lawrence said. "I don't really get into that, but I know and I voiced my opinion: James is one of our best players and he's got to be in the game.
"I think we're all on the same page, so there's no confusion there. We're going to move forward. I know James is a hell of a player, so I want him out there."