The Jacksonville Jaguars dropped to 0-4 on Thursday night, falling to the Cincinnati Bengals 24-21. “Heartbreaking” was the word used by both rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and first-year head coach Urban Meyer to describe the night, and it’s an accurate descriptor. The Jaguars lost two starters to injury, blew a 14-0 lead in the second half and the loss tied for the second-longest NFL losing streak in the Super Bowl era.
A silver lining from Thursday night was that the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft put together an impressive performance. Lawrence threw for 204 yards, and also rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown. He showed command of the huddle and made some impressive throws downfield. He was much sharper than Joe Burrow in the first half.
In his postgame press conference, Lawrence admitted that this loss stings, but at the same time the former Clemson star pointed out that this Jags team is getting better.
“We’ll have to regroup a little bit, this one hurts,” Lawrence said. “14-0 at halftime, come back out and just somehow come out on the wrong side of it, that’s tough. But we’re going to bounce back, I have no doubt. I know what we’re made of, just seeing how we’ve handled the first three weeks.
“But damn. I really want to get a win with these guys because we’ve been working so hard and put ourself in the position the last two weeks really even against the Broncos, had a chance too. Just gotta finish. It’s collectively, it’s everybody. It’s not one side of the ball or anything like that. It’s just all of us finishing. We’re getting there. I’m not even going to say, ‘It’s going to take time’ or whatever. We’re right there, and you guys have seen it the last few weeks.”
Coach Meyer took this loss extremely hard, and it was evident in his postgame press conference. He was asked about losing D.J. Chark and A.J. Cann to injury during the course of the game, but still being in position to come out on top through the first two quarters. Meyer’s response turned into how frustrating the night was for his team — how frustrating the entire season had been up to this point.
“It’s devastating — heartbreaking,” said Meyer. “Usually I’m not wrong about stuff like that, that I just see a good team in there. I see good guys, I see good hearts, I see guys that work. And I told them I’m not wrong. I’m not wrong about that stuff. This team is going to win some games.”
Meyer didn’t try to make any excuses for what happened on Thursday night. He was asked again if this loss was more frustrating because of how close his team was to its first win.
“That’s a heartbroken locker room,” said Meyer. “So we gotta get them back, they get a few days off and then obviously get ready for the Titans … there are good people in that locker room though.
“You create your own breaks and you know, I’ve said this from Day 1 is that the core of this team is good players and I thought we brought in some good players and we’re getting better each week — we are getting better each week. Just sickening that you didn’t win that thing. But like I told you, I’m not wrong about that, I’m not wrong about those guys in that room. They’re gonna keep swinging as hard as they possibly can.”
The NFL has proven to be a different world for the college football legend. Meyer went an astounding 187-32 during his career as a college head coach, but is now 0-4 as an NFL head coach. His body language and his words on Thursday night showed he was devastated by the loss. He even blanked on a reporter’s question and apologized because he said his head was “spinning.” Some will take that stereotypical coach-speak phrase as something more, as Meyer’s coaching career has been marred by health issues. He left both the University of Florida and Ohio State citing said health issues. The opening of the USC job hasn’t done the outside noise any favors either, and Meyer even attempted to put rumors to bed a couple of weeks ago, saying he’s committed to the Jaguars.
Some will take Thursday night’s loss and the following press conference as another reason why Meyer isn’t cut out for the NFL. But then there are others who saw that postgame press conference and walked away thinking Meyer truly cares about this team and this job. It seems like his simple presence will continue to be the headline when it comes to this Jaguars organization, and that won’t change until they are winning. Despite the loss, the Jaguars were close to clinching that first “W.” And that deserves to be a takeaway from Thursday night as well.