So, you’re saying there’s a chance? It’s true: Trevor Lawrence can, indeed, spurn the Jacksonville Jaguars for the New York Jets in the draft.
Of course it’s possible. In fact, it should even be discussed openly.
Finding that exact angle somewhere in the mainstream division of sports media is a tough chore. Forget any ethical obligations to not speak on something uncommon or outlandish—something that could inadvertently hurt a particular franchise. That’s never the reason.
Calls for Lawrence to spurn the Jets have been ringing loudly since October. Media members such as ESPN’s Mike Greenberg have even encouraged Lawrence to stay in school all because the Jets were on track for the top pick.
“If I were Trevor Lawrence, and the Jets have the first pick in the draft, you would have to think long and hard about staying at Clemson.”
— Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin (@KeyJayandZ) October 2, 2020
Where are those same calls when it’s the Jags? Jacksonville isn’t exactly Honolulu, and the Jaguars organization doesn’t ooze a Paul Brown-type feel that has players ready to run through a brick wall.
It’s almost as if the angle doesn’t work thanks to the low-level fandom seeping out of the Jacksonville area—a state notoriously known for its college football hoopla. The state that looks like it can’t wait to drift away from the rest of the continental United States routinely has trouble hyping up the professional sports crowd. Hell, the Miami Heat couldn’t even fill the building when LeBron James took his talents to the peninsula everybody loves to ridicule. Does Lawrence want to play professional football in a city and state that never shows up for its professional teams?
The Jags angle just doesn’t work. The reactions wouldn’t be as strong. The passion just isn’t there as it always is when the Jets are the target of dismay.
Usually, these folks operating with such harmful glee can get away with the double-standard. Instead of the Jags, perhaps it’s the Indianapolis Colts in the top spot, a team that sports a winning track record as of late, one that’s seen the likes of Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck walk through the doors. That comparison involving the Jets is an easy sell.
The Jags are a different story and shouldn’t be ignored. When checking out the tale of the tape between the two franchises, one knocks off the other. Or, at the very least, what works when targeting the Jets should also be applied to the Jags.
Is everybody actually supposed to pretend the Jags are the mightier organization from a winning perspective? The Jags have made the playoffs just seven times in their history that started in 1995. The Jets have seen the same number of playoff appearances over that time, but since 2000, the Jets’ six appearances trump the Jags’ three.
OK, we’re not comparing Muhammad Ali to Joe Frazier here. The Glass Joe-Von Kaiser reality is apparent. (That was a Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out reference for those who didn’t follow, so click the link and quickly familiarize yourself.)
Lawrence is a southern boy. Hailing from Knoxville, TN, and attending high school in Georgia, the kid chose Clemson, SC as his school of choice. There’s no question that Lawrence may even prefer the city of Jacksonville to New York—especially when considering the tax situation—but to not dig a little deeper would be an irresponsible move. Playing multiple home games in London, as the Jaguars initially planned to this season, doesn’t exactly align with those southern traditions (or any American football traditions, for that matter).
The theory that the Jets ruin every quarterback that comes to Florham Park, NJ is a tough one to combat. But the problem lies in the idea that they aren’t even close to the only ones with such a questionable track record.
Blake Bortles was drafted third overall in the 2014 NFL draft. After five average-at-best seasons with the Jags, the man took his act to the Los Angeles Rams a year ago as a backup. He’s now backing up Drew Lock in Denver.
Blaine Gabbert went 10th overall in 2011. Need we say more? He lasted just three years in Jacksonville and is now in Tampa, his fifth NFL team.
From an ownership and front office standpoint, where’s the beef? Where is the overwhelming positive that should have Lawrence on skates en route to Florida? Shahid Khan and Tony Khan haven’t exactly lit it up since taking the helm in 2010. In fact, a very public display between former Jag Yannick Ngakoue and ownership played out this past offseason, something the Joe Douglas-led Jets brass would never participate in on Twitter.
The Jags also are without a general manager. Trent Baalke is the interim as of this moment after David Caldwell’s firing. Caldwell did very little in his seven years there, while Douglas’s first draft class and overall vision for program building are at least apparent.
Plus, no matter the outlandish move Jamal Adams made this past offseason, Douglas and the Jets remained stoic. It’s a business, not an emotional game of chess, and Douglas made that extremely clear following the trade that sent Adams to Seattle.
“This is a business and you don’t take things personally,” Douglas said following the trade that sent Adams to Seattle. “Obviously there’s a reason why those things were said. I don’t take those things personally and I don’t think anyone took those things personally. You kind of understand why those things were said and I can promise you that didn’t affect any of our decision-making that happened over this last week.”
What if somebody told you the Jags aren’t the best situation for a youngster? What if this organization is more Jet-like than the Jets themselves?
In December 2019, it was revealed that more than 25 percent of all NFLPA grievances in the last two years came from the Jaguars organization. Tom Coughlin, the Jags’ former Executive VP of Football Operations, oversaw a program littered with trouble. It got so bad that the NFLPA wrote a letter to warn all free agents about the possibility of signing with the Jags.
“The NFLPA took the unusual step of publicly warning free agents against signing with the Jaguars because of Coughlin’s reported disregard for player rights,” via ESPN.
By no means should the Jets be off the hook in the player grievance regard. What happened with Kelechi Osemele is still a mystery, but to own 25 percent of all complaints is simply outrageous.
On the field, the talent is pretty close across the board. New York might have an edge, but it’s negligible. The same can be said for future draft assets and salary-cap space this coming offseason. Douglas’s presence in New Jersey, while the Jags enter the offseason without a guy heading the operation, marks a real win for the Jets.
Perhaps Lawrence is a kid who truly believes in himself to the point that it doesn’t matter where he ends up. Besides, the odds that he constructs any power-play is slim, especially when considering the draft’s history. An Eli Manning or John Elway situation happens but once every 15 or 20 years.
While unlikely, it’s at least a possibility that deserves attention.
The Jets can’t even lose the right way. Then again, maybe it’s that exact attitude a winner like Lawrence respects. There he is, sitting on his couch for a little Sunday NFL action, and he watches the 0-13 Jets knock off a 9-win Rams team, while the Jags get spanked by the Ravens. The pro-tankers would never agree with such a move, but Douglas’s culture talk lines up with Lawrence’s values. If the kid were to spurn any organization for another, it would absolutely fall in line with a vision that aligns itself with winning principles.
Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims are huge draws for a young quarterback. So is the New York area, no matter how digital this world becomes. Look at the former players-turned-media members in the business. From Bart Scott to Mike Tannenbaum, Keyshawn Johnson to Mark Sanchez and even Rex Ryan, former Jets are everywhere. Perhaps it’s part of the reason why the Jets always get the wrong end of the stick when headlines are read.
This topic is less about what Lawrence will or should do and much more about why the double-standard exists. Again, why are the Jags head and shoulders above the Jets? Why is it a better landing spot for a kid quarterback? And if the answer is, “It’s not,” then why haven’t the “Lawrence should avoid the Jaguars” headlines popping up on your social media feed right now?
Yes, it’s surely is possible: Trevor Lawrence can, indeed, spurn the Jacksonville Jaguars for the New York Jets this spring, and there are many reasons to do so. You just wouldn’t know it if you stuck to the mainstream voices.