The most important line in Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s Tuesday statement on Urban Meyer was that the head coach needed to “regain our trust and respect” in the aftermath of his weekend controversy.
But the most important player in Jacksonville’s organization said on Wednesday that Meyer still has both.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who turned 22 on Wednesday, was peppered in his weekly press conference with questions about his head coach. But Lawrence deftly fielded each one, publicly backing Meyer after what’s been a rough few days for the organization.
“I think everything’s been right on schedule like normal. I think we’ve operated well,” Lawrence said. “But at the end of the day, I can speak for myself for sure and I think — or I know most of the team feels this way: He’s still my head coach. I still respect him, regardless of what happens. Like I said, we’re a team and we’re figuring it out. So, we’re all good. We had a great day of practice today and we’re all still working.”
Lawrence said he didn’t “feel any type of way” after Meyer mentioned the quarterback’s bachelor party as an example of how, as a coach, he usually tells players to be smart. And Lawrence noted he thought Meyer addressing the team was great on Wednesday because the coach was upfront and apologized.
“I think he’s done right by us,” Lawrence said. “And we’re a team and we’re sticking together. Just because something happens that puts a little stress on it, that doesn’t mean you give up and just go your separate ways. You figure it out and work through it. So that’s what we’re doing and I feel good about our team. Nothing’s changed. We’re still really tight. So we’re just looking forward to playing the Titans this weekend and getting back on track.”
But Meyer was certainly aided by Lawrence’s comfort with the spotlight in this press conference. When the quarterback was asked when he knew Meyer wasn’t on the team plane back to Jacksonville, he said he was unaware of it and then did his best to turn the conversation back to football.
“I feel like, at this point, we’ve all addressed everything,” Lawrence said. “Everyone knows the situation, the details. It is what it is. Like I said, I’m still going to respect him. He’s our coach. I still believe in him — this team does. And we’re moving on to playing the Titans. And everyone kind of knows everything already, so there’s really no more questions, I don’t think, to be answered about it.”
Still, when pressed on if he had an issue with Meyer not returning with the team, Lawrence used his inexperience with NFL processes as a rationalization for Meyer’s choice.
“Not really, that’s not my call to make,” Lawrence said. “I still don’t know how this whole thing works in the NFL. Obviously, things are a lot different than college, so I don’t know. I don’t have an issue. Obviously, the situation happened and it became an issue. But I didn’t have an issue with him not going back. I get it, he has family in Ohio.”
As many have noted on social media and elsewhere, at any level of football, it is extremely rare for the head coach to not return home with his team after an away game. And Lawrence surely knows this. But saying that publicly would have only invited more strife.
That’s part of why Meyer is lucky to have a quarterback as mature and media-trained as Lawrence. As this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Lawrence’s comments likely helped calm things down both in and around the organization — and on his birthday, no less.
But Meyer still has a lot to make up for. A win over the Titans might help start that process more than anything else.