The Jacksonville Jaguars lost Trevor Lawrence to an ankle sprain on Monday Night Football. He's doing everything within his capability to suit up against the Cleveland Browns, but the coaching staff isn't rushing back onto the football field and would prefer he gets a bit healthier. That's the right approach.
Lawrence met with the local media Wednesday and says he's feeling better. However, he opted not to unveil details about his recovery from the sprain. For his part, head coach Doug Pederson says that the coaching staff won't expose the star quarterback or any other players to further injury risk.
"Our job as a medical staff, head coach, we're not going to put players on the field that aren't 100 percent, that aren't healthy, that could maybe even further risk more damage to the area that's injured," Pederson said. "It's our job to protect those players and make sure it's not at the cost of winning football games."
Pederson went on to say that the Jaguars must be prepared to hold the fort in case Lawrence does miss time, which seems likely at this point.
"We are in this last month of the year where we're making our run. But we also know that if, for instance, Trevor can't play in this game, there's going to come a time at some point where he is. We've all got to come together to weather this storm a little bit. So when he does return, we make that push with him. We've gone through this period of playing some backups," Pederson said.
Lawrence got hurt in the fourth quarter of the 34-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He bumped into left tackle Walker Little and got his ankle stepped on. He stood up and tried to walk on his own but fell to the ground. He then got assistance to get to the locker room, which raised questions about the team not having a golf cart at hand. Steezy Trev brought clarity to the issue. He says he asked the medical staff not to bring it because he thought he could walk off.
To nobody's surprise, Lawrence didn't practice Wednesday. While the Jags haven't ruled him out for Sunday, he may be a long shot to play against Cleveland. Before his injury he was on a hot streak going back to Week 11, completing 69.70 percent of his passes for 884 yards with five passing touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns, and just one interception. If Lawrence doesn't play Sunday, it will be the first time he's missed a game in his NFL career, and C.J. Beathard will be behind center for the Jaguars.
The risks of thrusting Trevor Lawrence back in action outweigh the benefits
The Jacksonville Jaguars were 8-3 before Week 13, with a legitimate chance to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Following the loss to the Bengals, getting a BYE in the postseason seems unlikely. That said, they have still lots to play for, mainly the AFC South title. With the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts one game behind them, Jacksonville cannot afford to let their guard down.
Having said that, they cannot win games at the expense of Trevor Lawrnece's health. While there's a dropoff from TLaw to backup C.J. Beathard, the Jags cannot expose their starting quarterback to further injury. They need to let him rest, even if that means not having him for two or three weeks.
For the sake of argument, let's say the Jags go 0-3 during those three games Lawrence misses, they could still have a shot at making the playoffs as a wild card. Although the games against the Browns and Ravens look tough, their slate gets a bit easier the last three weeks, going against the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, and the Tennessee Titans to end the season.
Granted, getting in as a wild card doesn't have the luster of making the playoffs as a division champion but does it matter? Once they qualify, it doesn't matter whether they are the top seed or No. 6, what matters is that they win, and having a healthy Trevor Lawrence then gives them a legitimate shot.