JACKSONVILLE – The debut went awry in a hurry.
It's hard to frame the Jaguars' 37-21 loss to the Houston Texans Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, any other way. While there were highlight moments for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, there were lowlights, too – and while there were moments of hope, Sunday's 2021 regular-season opener wasn't remotely what anyone around the Jaguars wanted.
A huge early deficit. Way too many penalties. Way too many first-half errors.
Way too many interceptions. Way too many big plays for the opponent.
The result was exactly what you don't want when starting a rookie quarterback, with an afternoon of difficult down-and-distance situations and big deficits. With those factors as a backdrop, it's not hard to see why the Jaguars were uncompetitive after Lawrence's two-interception second-quarter Sunday.
This was the first game of a new era – the first game for Lawrence and the first game for Head Coach Urban Meyer. Better days certainly lie ahead. But this was a difficult, difficult start.
Let's get to it …
Gary from St. Augustine, FL: Egad. Three interceptions for Lawrence. This is normal, right Zone? Tell me it's normal, Zone? Please? Zone?
Lawrence indeed struggled at times in his NFL debut, but the reality is he didn't do anything different from a lot of highly-drafted – and eventually successful – quarterbacks in their NFL debuts. He threw some impressive passes – including touchdowns of 22 and 41 yards to tight end Chris Manhertz and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., respectively. He also had some nice moments early, particularly when he converted third-and-long yardage into key first downs in the first half. That brings us to the biggest takeaway from Sunday regarding Lawrence. He was in way too many third-and-long situations early in the game and the Jaguars were way too far behind in the second half. Rookie quarterbacks are going to make mistakes in those situations. If you had told me before the game the Jaguars would be in those situations, I would have guessed Lawrence would have had two or three interceptions. He will be fine. But it will be up to a lot of people around him to play better for him to start having better results quickly.
Tom from My Couch and the Mean Streets of Nocatee: Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.
Fair. I don't think it's necessarily accurate to say it's going to stay the same as it ever was, but as for Sunday … yeah, fair.
Keith from Jacksonville and Section 436 Since 1995: 2-15???
Paul from Saint Johns: Does Lawrence throw the ball too hard? Is that why there are so many drops? Or is Chark's hand injury a contributing factor? Something else?
Lawrence doesn't throw the ball too hard. I don't know why there were so many drops, though there were at least five in the first half – and that's too many. It's hard to know if wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.'s hand injury was a factor, though he had a crucial drop in the first quarter that hurt at an important time.
Keith from Palatka: What did we learn? Houston isn't the worst team in the NFL. We are.
The Jaguars weren't good Sunday. I don't know if they're the worst team in the NFL. I know they have to do a lot of fundamental things better next week than they did Sunday if they're going to beat the Denver Broncos.
Wingus from Duval: So, James Robinson, he injured or something?
Second-year running back James Robinson was not injured. The Jaguars didn't run as much early as I expected and by midway through the second quarter, the game was getting away from them – and they trailed 27-7 at halftime. Those are difficult circumstances to run, though anyone around the Jaguars will tell you quickly that 16 total rushes – and five for Robinson – is not a winning formula.
Ben from Jacksonville: Fact- DJ Chark is not a good wide receiver. He plays small. Can't catch anything even when it hits him in the chest, and he quits on EVERY PLAY!!!!
This is not a fact. Chark is not a bad wide receiver. He has to play better than he did Sunday, but he has played better than he did Sunday and there's no reason to think he won't do so again.
Scott from Medford: Illegal formation on first play, holding on first running play from a team captain! Meyer gets a F on his first test. That may be the worst opening day I have seen from the Jaguars (too lazy to check actual stats).
This was Meyer's post-game focus. He called the mistakes to start the game "self-inflicted" and "inexcusable." He also was very specific that they wouldn't happen moving forward. He needs to be correct. You can't have the sorts of mistakes the Jaguars made in the first quarter Sunday and expect to win.
Nick from Orlando: If you would have told me the day tight end Chris Manhertz was signed he would catch Lawrence's first touchdown pass ever, I would have said "not possible."
I would have said it was unlikely. But when I saw Manhertz in training camp, I would have said it's likely. He's a better receiver than many expected, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had a productive season as a receiver.
Clayton from Shawnee, OK: Too much money was spent in the secondary this offseason to allow a journeyman quarterback to have a 229-yard, two-touchdown, first-half performance today. Unacceptable.