NFL Power Rankings: Trevor Lawrence's problems can't be blamed on Urban Meyer anymore

Trevor Lawrence has had 25 NFL starts. Before that, he had 40 starts at Clemson, a big-time college program. That's plenty of high-level football.

A year and a half in the NFL isn't enough to know exactly what a player is, but it's a decent look at him. And what we've seen from Lawrence isn't what we thought we'd be seeing when he was as hyped as any prospect over the last 10 years. Lawrence still has time to develop, and the Jacksonville Jaguars will give him as much time as reasonably possible, but it's not like he has no experience. He just hasn't been good yet.

Sunday's game in London was a decent snapshot of what Lawrence has been. He made two big mistakes in a 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. First was an indescribable interception to Broncos safety Justin Simmons at the goal line. It came on first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, which made it even worse. Simmons is a very good safety and it was a nice play, but this isn't a mistake a good quarterback should make.

Then came the real killer for the Jaguars. The Broncos scored to take a lead but the Jaguars had 1:43 to answer. This is the exact spot the Jaguars drafted Lawrence first overall last year for. You expect a star quarterback to at least give his team a shot to win.

Lawrence threw a pass behind his receiver on the first play of the drive and it was intercepted.

A lot more goes into a team's record than just the play of the quarterback, but obviously the quarterback is the most important player on the field. The Jaguars are now 5-20 in Lawrence's starts. He has 22 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in his career. Since a 2-1 start to the Jaguars season, Lawrence has four touchdowns, five interceptions, a 57.8 completion percentage and a hideous 72.6 passer rating.

Lawrence wasn't just the No. 1 pick of the draft. He would have been the No. 1 pick in most drafts. He was a special prospect. Those guys don't often miss. To this point, Lawrence has missed, at least to the level of expectation placed on him.

Among the 25 quarterbacks with 200 dropbacks this season, Lawrence's passing grade at Pro Football Focus ranks 24th. Only Justin Fields trails him. Just ahead of Lawrence is Matt Ryan, who was already benched this season.

This is usually where Urban Meyer's name gets brought up. And it's why we're going down the same road with Lawrence that we went down with Sam Darnold.

Last year, those who thought Darnold could be salvaged usually repeated the same reason: Adam Gase was a bad coach and didn't help Darnold. That's true. But when that's the only reason for a hope, and there's no argument based on any positive trends from the player, it gets flimsy in a hurry. You can only blame Meyer, a truly horrendous NFL coach, for so much. He wasn't the one throwing a first-and-goal pass right at Simmons on Sunday. He wasn't the one causing Lawrence to be off the mark numerous times, including on that final interception.

Lawrence, like most of the 2021 quarterback class, hasn't exactly been an instant star like Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert. He has had a few good games, including wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers earlier this season. That, and his rare pedigree as a prospect, keeps the light on. Quarterbacks develop at different rates. We can see the improvement Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts have made in their third seasons. The Jaguars haven't given Lawrence a great cast, and that matters. We see that with Tagovailoa and Hurts this season, too.

But a lot of this is on Lawrence. He hasn't made great decisions, especially in the red zone. His accuracy has been subpar. The Jaguars have practically turned him into a game manager. In three of his last five games he hasn't passed for more than 174 yards. The Jaguars don't trust him to do more, and it looks like he doesn't trust himself to throw downfield. He had just 4.3 yards per attempt on Sunday.

There's still time for Lawrence to blossom and be the next John Elway, next Andrew Luck or whatever elite prospect you want to cite. But you'd like to see more by now, and it's getting harder to blame his struggles this season on a coach who was fired last December.

Trevor Lawrence has not looked like the can’t-miss prospect he was considered coming out of Clemson, and it’s not like you can blame Urban Meyer for his recent struggles. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)
Trevor Lawrence has not looked like the can’t-miss prospect he was considered coming out of Clemson, and it’s not like you can blame Urban Meyer for his recent struggles. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Here are the power rankings after Week 8 of the NFL season:

32. Houston Texans (1-5-1, Last Week: 32)

According to, the Titans were the first team since the Bengals in 2000 to have more than 300 rushing yards and fewer than 40 passing yards in a game. This seems like a Titans tidbit, but it's actually about the Texans, who knew that the Titans would be absolutely one-dimensional and could do nothing at all to stop it.

31. Detroit Lions (1-6, LW: 31)

The Lions fired defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant after another awful game for the defense. The Lions had two 14-point leads against the Dolphins and nobody believed they were going to win. It's a really bad team right now and firing the defensive backs coach won't fix that. If things don't turn around soon, Pleasant probably won't be the last coach to go. And eventually Dan Campbell won't have any more assistant coaches to fire before he's the one on the block.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6, LW: 29)

Najee Harris is having a hugely disappointing season. He doesn't have a great line blocking for him, but he's losing time to Jaylen Warren and rightfully so. Harris is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, down from 3.9 last season, and is not helping the offense at all.

29. Carolina Panthers (2-6, LW: 30)

P.J. Walker will get another start at quarterback in Week 9. In essence, Baker Mayfield has been benched, at least for the time being. Mayfield was a low-cost investment, unlike the way-too-high price the Panthers paid for Sam Darnold in 2021, but it's still a waste of resources on another QB who did not work out.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6, LW: 26)

The positive from Sunday's loss was Travis Etienne Jr. Jacksonville quit wasting so many snaps on James Robinson by trading him to the Jets, and Etienne responded with 162 total yards. He looked great. It's weird it took so long for Jacksonville to figure out that Etienne should be used more.

27. Las Vegas Raiders (2-5, LW: 16)

Josh McDaniels' second stint as a head coach is not going well. The big question is why Derek Carr has taken such a big step back. McDaniels was supposed to help Carr, not drag him down. His numbers are way down and it's not an age thing; he's just 31. If McDaniels wants to save this season and go into next year with some positive vibes, it starts with showing that he can get at least as much out of Carr as the 2021 staff did. Carr's decline reflects even worse on McDaniels than the Raiders' awful record.

26. Chicago Bears (3-5, LW: 24)

The Bears aren't wrong to trade pass rusher Robert Quinn and linebacker Roquan Smith. They're rebuilding and the draft picks will be handy. The big news for the Bears is that Justin Fields continues to make strides. Fields playing as well as he has, with the absolute lack of high-end talent surrounding him, has provided a lot more optimism over his future. The extra picks will help build something around him.

25. Cleveland Browns (3-5, LW: 28)

Cleveland has been waiting for a performance like Monday night all season. We'll see if that was a one-off game against the Bengals or perhaps a sign that the Browns are improving. I'd bet on the Browns not being able to repeat that performance, but it was pretty impressive.

24. Denver Broncos (3-5, LW: 27)

Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich had 87 yards for the Broncos and gave them a nice boost in the third quarter when Denver wasn't moving the ball. Dulcich has been very good since he came back from a preseason hamstring injury, and it looks like Denver nailed this third-round pick.

23. Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1, LW: 22)

Sam Ehlinger did OK, but the Colts scored 16 points and lost in the final minute. Now they're just a losing team with a quarterback who will go through a lot of growing pains. They can't even rely on Jonathan Taylor the way the Titans are relying on Derrick Henry. Taylor is averaging 77 rushing yards per game (106.5 last season) with one rushing TD (18 last season) and had a costly fumble in Sunday's loss. Nothing is going well for the Colts.

22. Arizona Cardinals (3-5, LW: 21)

The Cardinals have the sixth-lowest neutral pass rate in the NFL over the last four weeks, according to Hayden Winks of Underdog Fantasy. How is that even possible with a $230 million quarterback? Arizona is 1-3 in those games, for what it's worth. It's just not a well-coached team.

21. New Orleans Saints (3-5, LW: 25)

Alvin Kamara scoring his first three touchdowns of the season is a great sign. It sounds crazy for a team that is just 3-5, but they're right in the mix of the NFC South race. It helps to play in an awful division.

20. Washington Commanders (4-4, LW: 23)

Chase Young will return to practice on Wednesday, coach Ron Rivera said, and then Washington will have 21 days to activate him off the PUP list. There's no guarantee Young will be right back to his old form anytime soon, but he is an immense talent and perhaps he can spark a Commanders team that is off to a surprising 4-4 start.

19. Atlanta Falcons (4-4, LW: 20)

The Falcons got lucky to avoid what would have been a pretty bad loss. If Panthers kicker Eddy Pineiro hits either of his final two kicks (maybe he hits one if D.J. Moore keeps his helmet on), we're talking about the Falcons defense getting torched by perhaps the worst offense in the NFL. Winning cures all, so all hail your first-place Falcons.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5, LW: 18)

The Buccaneers average three yards per rushing attempt. No other team is lower than 3.3 yards per rush. Yet, you'll see the argument that the Bucs' way out of their current mess is to run the ball more. If "run the ball more, even though you're by far the worst running team in the NFL" is your way to fix the 2022 Buccaneers, I will kindly disagree.

17. Los Angeles Rams (3-4, LW: 17)

Cooper Kupp injured his ankle late with 1:02 left in Sunday's game. The Rams trailed 31-14. Sean McVay is smarter than that; risking one of the league's best players in a meaningless situation is just awful management. Kupp apparently avoided a major injury but we don't know how being banged up for half of the season will affect him. It's just one of many things that the Rams haven't gotten right in their Super Bowl defense.

16. Green Bay Packers (3-5, LW: 15)

The Packers were overwhelmed on Sunday, but that's going to happen to a lot of Bills opponents this season. Nothing seems good for the Packers right now but they can still rally and be relevant in the NFC. The biggest key is figuring out the defense, which is one of the most disappointing units in the NFL this season.

15. Los Angeles Chargers (4-3, LW: 14)

The Chargers need a win at Atlanta on Sunday. Their two games after that are at the 49ers and vs. the Chiefs. They could find themselves in a four-game losing streak really fast, especially with their injuries.

14. New York Jets (5-3, LW: 11)

The Jets can't let their good start become a bad thing. Let's explain. The Jets are still in a long-term rebuild. A 5-2 start didn't really change that, though it was a fun streak. Hearing rumors that they're considering trading a first-round pick for Broncos pass rusher Bradley Chubb is a bit alarming (though maybe inaccurate), because that's a short-term move for a team that should be thinking about the next few seasons. Robert Saleh saying Zach Wilson will start at quarterback all season no matter what aligns a lot better with the overall vision, even if people are impatient with Wilson.

13. New England Patriots (4-4, LW: 19)

The Patriots' offense certainly isn't fixed because they got a win over the Jets, especially after settling for five field goals. But it was a win. Bill Belichick knows how to manage a game and get victories, especially when everyone is counting him out.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (4-4, LW: 10)

I don't think the Bengals are bad just because they got demolished on Monday night. Most teams have bad games, though the Bengals took that to an extreme. The Bengals aren't bad, but Monday night hammered home the idea that there are no more than three or four true contenders halfway into this season. Everyone else is pretty mediocre.

11. New York Giants (6-2, LW: 5)

The Giants are going to have games like Sunday, in which there's just not enough offensive firepower. It's not a finished product and Brian Daboll can only do so much to scheme things up. A loss at Seattle doesn't change too much. Everyone, even Giants fans, knew it wasn't a 6-1 quality roster. They'll be fine.

10. Seattle Seahawks (5-3, LW: 13)

The Seahawks continue to be one of the best stories of the season. And it's not fluky. This is a good team that's not going anywhere. I'm not sure they can hold off the 49ers in the NFC West, but I can't rule it out either. A great draft class and the unbelievable improvement from Geno Smith has set a nice foundation.

9. Tennessee Titans (5-2, LW: 9)

Derrick Henry rushing for 200 yards in four straight games against the Texans is a feat that probably won't be matched. Nobody had ever rushed for 150 in four straight games against the same opponent before Henry did it. Henry is incredible, one of the most unique talents in the NFL. And he hasn't lost anything.

8. San Francisco 49ers (4-4, LW: 12)

Imagine this offense once Deebo Samuel is healthy. Christian McCaffrey is one of the true difference-making running backs in the NFL. If the offense and defense could get reasonably healthy, the 49ers' ceiling is at least an NFC championship. They're that talented.

7. Miami Dolphins (5-3, LW: 8)

Another reminder: The Dolphins are 5-0 in games that Tua Tagovailoa has started and finished, including a win over the Super Bowl favorite Bills. Tyreek Hill might be having a record-setting season, Jaylen Waddle is a great No. 2 and the Dolphins are a lot more dangerous than they're being given credit for.

6. Minnesota Vikings (6-1, LW: 6)

Za'Darius Smith has five sacks in Minnesota's last two games, and is up to 8.5 this season. Everyone mentions Davante Adams' departure from the Packers as a reason they're 3.5 games behind the Vikings in the standings, but don't forget Minnesota stealing Smith from their rival when he was a free agent.

5. Baltimore Ravens (5-3, LW: 7)

The Roquan Smith trade will get the headlines on Monday, and rightfully so (he and Patrick Queen will be a nice duo inside) but perhaps more important was the news that rookie David Ojabo and Tyus Bowser were activated. Every team can use more pass rushers, and if Ojabo or Bowser (or both) can impact the defense the rest of the season it would be a big boost.

4. Dallas Cowboys (6-2, LW: 4)

Everyone is laughing over Jerry Jones saying "we’re going to go as Zeke goes," after Tony Pollard went off in Ezekiel Elliott's absence, but there is some validity to it. Really. Pollard isn't going away. He'll have a big role. He is also a 209-pound back who had never logged 12 or more carries in back-to-back games until Dallas' past two games. Teams need two backs. Jones is overstating Elliott's importance, but a healthy Elliott and a fresh Pollard give the Cowboys a valuable combination.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2, LW: 3)

It will be interesting to see how Kadarius Toney fits. Surprise, surprise, he was deemed healthy not long after the Giants traded him. He's an elite talent. He is also entirely unreliable. The Chiefs traded a conditional third-round pick and a sixth-rounder for him, and that's a significant price. That's not a low-cost move in which it doesn't matter much to the team if they don't get much out of Toney. He could be a real difference-maker late in the season. He could also do some more quiet quitting, and nobody should be surprised by that either.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (7-0, LW: 2)

Losing big defensive tackle Jordan Davis for a few weeks to a high ankle sprain isn't great, but the Eagles' upcoming schedule (at Texans, vs. Commanders, at Colts, vs. Packers) isn't all that daunting. It's almost unavoidable that the Eagles are the NFC's No. 1 seed, as long as they can stay ahead of the Cowboys in the division.

1. Buffalo Bills (6-1, LW: 1)

The Bills keep marching on. One issue could be staying focused, and we saw a bit of that on Sunday night. The Bills were blowing out the Packers and then got a bit sloppy. Josh Allen threw a couple turnovers. They weren't quite as sharp. And they still won by 10. The Bills just need to lock in and avoid the weird losses that ultimately cost them dearly last season.