Head coach Urban Meyer made the announcement on Wednesday, saying Lawrence will start the Sept. 12 season opener in Houston against the Texans as well as Sunday’s preseason finale in Dallas against the Cowboys.
“We wanted him to earn it, as we do with every position,” Meyer said. “We felt he has, after [Monday] night’s performance was — it was good, obviously not great. We didn’t run the ball very well. I kind of in my mind had that [deadline] after the second preseason [game] that we kind of have to get someone ready to play in three weeks.”
Lawrence had been alternating practice days with the first-team offense with Gardner Minshew throughout training camp but started both preseason games. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 184 yards and was sacked three times against the Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints. Lawrence has been pressured on 37% of his dropbacks this preseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
The first-team offense has managed only three points in six drives and Meyer said Lawrence needs to change that against the Cowboys. The Jaguars have only scored four touchdowns in the two preseason games.
“I mean it’s frustrating but also we just got to stick together and keep playing,” Lawrence said. “We’re going to figure it out. I’m really confident in that. We got a bunch of guys that are that are putting the work in and we’re going to do everything it takes to get on the right track. I’m confident in that. I’m not worried. Obviously you’d like to score more points than we have for sure, but all stuff that we can build on, that we know we need to get better at, so it’s just a matter of doing it and going out there and practicing it.”
Minshew completed 17 of 29 passes for 196 yards with two interceptions (one in the end zone) in the two preseason games and Meyer said he’s now in a competition with C.J. Beathard for the backup spot. Beathard has completed 22 of 30 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the two games.
Meyer told the team of the quarterback decision during a team meeting and Lawrence said the reaction in the quarterback meeting after the team meeting was positive.
“We’ve got a great group,” Lawrence said. “Minsh [Minshew] has been awesome, treating me really well. We’ve had a lot of conversations. He’s been a guy that I’ve been able to learn from, and C.J. and Jake [Luton], all those guys, we’re all in it together. You know, we’re all on the same team and, at the end of the day, I think that’s the most important thing. But it’s been good.
“Moving forward, we’re not making it bigger than it is. I’m going to be the starter and just got to play well, so that doesn’t change.”
Meyer drew a lot of criticism for not naming Lawrence the starter sooner (or immediately), but he wanted to prove the point that everyone — even the top overall pick that has been labeled a generational prospect — has to earn their job. But Meyer admitted Wednesday that this would likely be the last time Lawrence would be in a quarterback competition.
“I hope so, and you can capitalize that if you want,” Meyer said. “Underline it. Cap it.”
The past 13 quarterbacks selected first overall are winless in their first NFL starts. The last quarterback to win his debut after getting picked at No. 1 was David Carr, for the Texans in 2002.