Trevor Lawrence has emerged out of Urban Meyer's shadow as the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars

Despite a bumpy rookie season on the field, the Jacksonville Jaguars are now, without a doubt, Trevor Lawrence’s team. David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you’re trying to find anything positive to take away from Urban Meyer’s disastrous 11-month tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s the growth of quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

It may not be readily evident on the field because he’s thrown just nine touchdown passes (only one since November began), and he’s tied for the NFL lead with 14 interceptions, but his current coaches are adamant that he’s taken giant steps throughout his rookie season.

More significant is what Lawrence has shown over the past month off the field.

The 22-year-old displayed more leadership and integrity this past month than his 57-year-old former coach did at any point in 2021. Lawrence was the person who went to Meyer to lobby for twice-benched running back James Robinson being on the field more. He was the person who publicly demanded the drama and distractions end. He was the player to whom owner Shad Khan turned in trying to get a feel for how that impacted the team.

Through the drama, distractions, disarray and disorder resulting from Meyer’s tumultuous tenure and ignominious end, Lawrence has emerged out of Meyer’s shadow as the face of the franchise. The Jaguars are now, without a doubt, Lawrence’s team.

“I feel like I’ve had to [grow as a leader] a little bit,” Lawrence said. “Obviously, as the quarterback, people look to you, especially offensively and just in the team. We have a lot of leaders, but still, being the quarterback, it’s important to be outspoken and say what you believe, say what you think, what’s on your mind.

“I’ve learned how to do that more and also just how to navigate different obstacles. So, it’s been a year where I’ve grown a lot for sure.”

Lawrence was always going to end up in this role. He was the top overall pick and tasked with saving a franchise that has been the league’s worst over the past decade. But it wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly. Not with Meyer in charge.

Meyer was one of the most successful college coaches, winning three national titles (two with Florida, one with Ohio State) and ranking third all-time in winning percentage (85.4) among FBS coaches with a minimum of 10 years as a head coach, and Khan lured him away from TV work to revitalize the Jaguars.

For a franchise that jumped all over Gardner Minshew Mania after one Thursday night victory over the Tennessee Titans on national television, Meyer was marketing wonder.

His “own it” slogan was plastered around the facility, including on the privacy screens that rimmed the practice fields, and he did national television, radio and podcast appearances from the moment he arrived.

Even though it was pretty much a lock the Jaguars were going to draft Lawrence first overall, Meyer was the star.

And even though Lawrence was the No. 1 recruit in the nation, led Clemson to the national title as a freshman by beating Alabama and was labeled a generational prospect, he was still a rookie -- and in the world of the NFL, rookies know their place. Do your job, be quiet and bring the veterans donuts.

Even No. 1 overall picks. They have to be out in front of the media regularly, but they’re supposed to be humble, appreciative and not make headlines for anything other than what they’ve done on the field.

Lawrence was, and he did all of that.

Until Meyer was caught on two viral videos behaving inappropriately with a younger woman that wasn’t his wife.

Until Meyer said he didn’t know why Robinson was benched for so long after fumbling – “You’d have to ask [running backs] Coach [Bernie] Parmalee.” – even though Carlos Hyde got back into the game the next drive after he fumbled. Or why Robinson was carrying the ball in the final two minutes of a 30-point blowout when Meyer said he was still dealing with heel and knee injuries.

Until Meyer denied a report that he had a confrontation with receiver Marvin Jones Jr. over something Meyer said at a news conference about the receivers.

Until Meyer denied a report that he called his assistants “losers.”

Until Meyer said he’d fire the person who was leaking information if he found out who it was.

Until Meyer had no answers for his team’s performance in a 20-0 loss at Tennessee, which was just the fourth shutout loss in franchise history.

At that point, Lawrence had no choice but to step into the leadership role his coach had abdicated, a role that players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers took years to reach.

“The NFL season is hard enough,” interim head coach Darrell Bevell said. “Just being a rookie and playing in the position that he gets to play, there’s a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. Any time you add any more distractions or outside interference into that, I think it adds to that. I like the way he’s handled it. I think he’s been a true professional about it.

“He continues to work and has been about his business each and every day. I’m really proud of what he’s done over this time that he’s been here.”

Regardless of which coach that Khan and general manager Trent Baalke hire during the offseason, the Jaguars are now fully Lawrence’s team.