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With adversity en route, here's what Trevor Lawrence can learn from Kyler Murray

Johnny Venerable Avatar
September 24, 2021

On the surface, Sunday’s out of conference game between the visiting Arizona Cardinals and the Jacksonville Jaguars may appear like a matchup of two teams headed in the opposite direction.

The Cardinals are looking to secure their first 3-0 start since that magical 2015 campaign where Carson Palmer and company reached the NFC Championship. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are in a complete rebuild mode as they’ve predictably started the year 0-2.

Yet even with the stark differences in personnel, both squads do have some comparables that are worth noting.

For starters, they both sport former collegiate head coaches that each had minimal NFL exposure before rising to the professional ranks. Urban Meyers’ arrival to the NFL, like Kingsbury, has been met with strong criticism by league officials and media alike.

On par with Kingsbury’s 0-3-1 start to begin his rookie campaign (2019), Jacksonville’s winless stretch has not quieted the noise surrounding Meyer. The former Ohio State head coach was recently taken to the woodshed by the media surrounding comments stated in private to Bronco head coach Vic Fangio.


Even with the dysfunction that continually surrounds the Jaguars, Meyer can take solace in knowing that he still has top pick Trevor Lawrence as the ace in his sleeve. Lawrence, who was the driving factor in Meyer’s arrival in Jacksonville, stands out in a division littered with QB journeymen (Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill) and injury prone divas (Carson Wentz) alike.

Even with marginal numbers to begin the season, it’s evident with Lawrence that the traits that made him an elite NFL prospect are slowly starting to manifest at the NFL level.

The flashes of brilliance seen by Lawrence are consistent with that of Murray’s rookie season in which he took home eventual Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. After a rocky start in his debut against Detroit, Murray slowly began to cement himself amongst the NFL’s elite young quarterbacks.

That was despite the 2019 Arizona Cardinals winning a meager five games.

Murray and Lawrence, unlike the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, were both top picks trust into environments of chaos and disarray. In Arizona, the incumbent Josh Rosen was quickly shipped out of town for 30 cents on the dollar once Murray’s private jet (flown by Michael Bidwill) touched down in the desert.

As we’ve seen from the former Oklahoma Sooner now turned Redbird, Murray has been everything and more the Cardinals could have wanted when they made him their franchise QB. That’s with inheriting an offensive unit that was, statistically, perhaps the worst seen in modern day pro football. In addition to that, Murray had to navigate early NFL waters with a college head coach that had a career winning percentage of just .467.

Lawrence’s training camp was about as unconventional as they come, with Meyer inexplicably opting to make it an open competition at quarterback between he and veteran Gardner Minshew. That was until conventional wisdom took over and the Jaguars shipped the aforementioned Minshew out of town for a conditional sixth round pick.

Say what you want about Kliff Kingsbury, but at least he had the sense to immediately declare Murray as the team’s starting quarterback the moment Arizona kicked off OTAs.

To Lawrence’s credit, even with the consistent missteps of his head coach, he has continued to put his head down and improve for a franchise desperate for a savior.

The litmus test for Lawrence will inevitably arrive in the comings months when, like Murray, he is expected to stay positive and engaged while the Jaguars continue to rack up losses.

For a point of reference, Lawrence went 38-2 at the University of Clemson. His Sunday counterpart, in his lone season as a starter in the Big 12, went 12-2.

That’s after going undefeated as a high school football phenom in the state of Texas.

Up until this point, Kyler Murray has been able to navigate those waters of adversity even with the Cardinals below .500 for his career. At no point has the young signal caller opted to point figures at different aspects of the Cardinal organization for their lack of postseason success.

Rather, Murray continues to take ownership of the team’s shortcomings while putting more pressure on himself to win.

Lawrence would be wise to follow in Murray’s lead as a former top pick that truly must carry the weight of a franchise on their shoulders.

Eventually Lawrence will benefit, as has Murray, from a team that is suddenly flushed with cap space and draft capital. Over the course of his first 12 months in the desert, Kyler Murray was gifted the likes of Kenyan Drake and DeAndre Hopkins. The Jaguars will likely spend no time this coming offseason ensuring Lawrence has everything he needs to take that ever critical next step.

But for now, it’s all about surviving.

Just like Cam Newton and Andrew Luck before them, there’s a reason a team picking first overall has “earned” that right. You aren’t gifted the trust fund of a Hall of Fame coach or general manager. You’re offensive line is likely a major liability and your coach is probably as lost as you are. For Trevor Lawrence and Kyler Murray, they’re the lower class kids working two jobs to pay off their student loans.

Yet you’re expected to make your own way if you ever hope to reach NFL greatness.

That’s because, in the words of James Lane Allen, “adversity does not build character, it reveals it”.

Time to see what kind of character Trevor Lawrence has this Sunday.

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