JACKSONVILLE – Trevor Lawrence started, and that was a big story.
The story lasted a quarter, with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft starting at quarterback for the Jaguars Saturday in the 2021 preseason opener – a game the Jaguars lost to the Cleveland Browns, 23-13, with 57,508 tickets distributed at TIAA Bank Field.
"It's disappointing anytime you lose," Lawrence said. "It is a preseason game, but for us, that doesn't change anything. We still want to win. You do have to take the nuggets that you can learn from. We learned a lot. There's a lot of things we can work on.
"At the end of the day, you want to win the game and we didn't. We want to get better at that."
The Jaguars produced 85 yards offense in the first half, a statistic that was the focus for Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer – who was coaching his first NFL game of any kind after a 17-year career as one the most successful college coaches of all-time.
Meyer was asked afterward if the preseason-opening performance was "concerning."
"Concerning? Yeah," Meyer said. "Everything's concerning. It's my job to be concerned."
Meyer was asked how he felt in his first NFL game.
"I felt great until I looked up and saw 85 yards at halftime," he said with a smile.
Lawrence, announced as the starter just before kickoff, played two series with the starting offense. He completed six of nine passes for 71 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, and was sacked twice — once on each drive. The Jaguars trailed 6-0 when he was replaced by Gardner Minshew II midway through the second quarter.
"It's the first preseason game," Jaguars center Brandon Linder said. "A lot of things to learn from. New team. We did some things well and obviously some things we didn't. We can't speak on it until we actually watch the film."
The Browns outgained the Jaguars 360-302, and held a 22-19 advantage in first downs. Cleveland led 16-0 before reserve quarterback CJ Beathard – who replaced Gardner Minshew II at halftime – threw an early fourth-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Tavon Austin.
The Browns pushed the lead to 23-6 with the second of two touchdown passes by reserve quarterback Kyle Lauletta, who threw touchdowns to receivers Davion Davis (second quarter) and Ryan Switzer (fourth quarter).
Jaguars wide receiver Marvin Jones caught three first-half passes for 52 yards, with Austin – a former first-round selection signed by the Jaguars as a free agent during '21 training camp – catching four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Minshew, a starter in 20 games for the Jaguars over the last two seasons, played the final two series of the first half. He completed four of eight passes for 47 yards and no touchdowns with an interception on a long pass on the final play of the half. He was sacked once, on his first series.
The Jaguars trailed, 13-0, when Beathard replaced Minshew to start the second half. Beathard completed 13 of 16 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
The Jaguars registered one sack – by first-year veteran Aaron Patrick in the second half.
"We play to win," Jaguars defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen said. "Our mindset is to go out there and win and we didn't win. That hurts everybody who has that pride. We just don't want to lose, so it hurts. But I know this team and we're going to be good. We're going to keep fighting."
Step by step:
- The Browns took a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, with Lawrence being sacked twice in the period while completing 5 of 7 passes for 64 yards and closing the quarter with a 35-yard pass to Jones on 3rd-and-10 from the Jaguars 13. Chase McLaughlin's 37-yard field goal with 10:40 remaining in the first quarter capped a 56-yard drive on the game's opening opening and made it 3-0, Browns.
- The Browns led 13-0 at halftime, outgaining the Jaguars 240-120 and having a 13-5 advantage in first downs at that time. A 34-yard field goal by Cody Parkey pushed the Browns' lead to 6-0 with 8:41 remaining in the second quarter, with Davis beating rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell for a 27-yard touchdown pass from Lauletta in the corner of the end zone with :13 remaining in the quarter.
- The Browns pushed the lead to 16-0 with a 48-yard field goal by Parkey with 6:11 remaining in the third quarter.
- The Jaguars quickly cut into the lead to start the fourth quarter, with Beathard throwing five yards to Austin for a touchdown on the first play of the period. That made it 16-6. Austin dropped Beathard's two-point conversion pass. The Browns pushed the lead to 23-6 with a seven-yard pass from Lauletta to Switzer with 4:28 remaining and the Jaguars cut the lead to the final margin when quarterback Jake Luton passed seven yards to tight end Tyler Davis.
Notable:DJ Chark Jr. was among four receivers not playing for the Jaguars Saturday, with the others being veteran Phillip Dorsett II, Tim Jones and Josh Imatorbhebhe. Chark missed after undergoing surgery on his hand recently and is expected to be ready for the Jaguars' 2021 regular-season opener at Houston. Also ruled out before Saturday's game for the Jaguars: safeties Rudy Ford and Daniel Thomas, cornerback Luq Barcoo, guard Andrew Norwell and defensive lineman Taven Bryan. …
Jaguars starting defense: Defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris, Malcom Brown and DaVon Hamilton, Linebackers Myles Jack, Damien Wilson, Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson, cornerbacks Tre Herndon and Shaq Griffin and safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Josh Jones.
Injury report: Herndon sustained a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. … Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard was ruled out shortly after halftime with a concussion. … Defensive tackle Daniel Ross sustained an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. …
View top photos from the Jaguars Preseason debut against the Cleveland Browns.