There are now two prevailing concerns surrounding the reconstruction of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Or something like that.
We’ve reached the point of NFL draft speculation where people are debating the will to win of a QB who went 34-2 in college and appeared in two national championship games, winning one. Prior to that he won two Georgia high school state titles and, during one stretch, 41 consecutive games.
Through it all, Lawrence was known for staying after practice for extra work, improving on a near-daily basis and displaying a willingness to lower even his golden throwing shoulder if it might get him a few extra yards. He’s a leader.
But … in a Sports Illustrated cover story that sent draft fans into a tizzy, the Clemson star revealed a grounded and perspective-based ethos when it comes to winning in the NFL — namely while it is very, very, important, it’s not going to consume him.
“It’s hard to explain that because I want people to know that I’m passionate about what I do and it’s really important to me, but … I don’t have this huge chip on my shoulder that everyone’s out to get me and I’m trying to prove everybody wrong,” Lawrence told SI. “I just don’t have that. I can’t manufacture that. I don’t want to.
“... And I think people mistake that for being a competitor,” Lawrence continued. “I think that’s unhealthy to a certain extent, just as always thinking that you’ve got to prove somebody wrong, you’ve got to do more, you’ve got to be better.”
That kind of quote will stand out in a league where Tom Brady is, right now, fueling his push for an eighth Super Bowl with memories of being drafted 199th overall and having everyone doubt him — 21 years ago.
So too do these comments from his father (“He’s not: ‘I want to win a Super Bowl at all costs.’”) and his high school coach (“With who he is as a person, he could walk away from [football] tomorrow and be fine.”)
Is it a concern? Everything is a concern when it comes to the draft, but this shouldn’t be a big one.
Make no mistake, Jacksonville, which went 1-15 last season, is picking Lawrence first overall later this month, even if Meyer, the Jags coach, is so outrageously competitive that he retired twice from college football due to burnout and/or health concerns.
As for Lawrence’s “motivations,” that’s always a concern for a player, rookie or veteran. No one can make it in the NFL without incredible drive. But there are no indications that he has ever been someone who cruises on natural talent, thinks he has already made it or won’t prepare in a manner required of a franchise quarterback.
Lawrence wants to work and win, he’s just not going to invent slights (he has lived a fairly charmed life, after all) or takes to social media to brag each day about “rising and grinding.”
He’s a different kind of guy. He just is.
He got married last weekend, at age 21 to his high school girlfriend. He turned down attending the draft in person so he could be with friends and family back at Clemson. When he, a coveted five-star high school recruit, made his highly anticipated college commitment, he wanted to break the news to his small local newspaper, not on "SportsCenter" even though it would have cleared the airtime.
That’s who he is.
It’s just not who Urban Meyer is. It’s almost the exact opposite, actually.
Meyer left “dream jobs” at Florida and Ohio State because his relentless focus on winning was untenable. He would routinely lose 15-20 pounds during a season because he forgot to eat. He was hospitalized with heart issues. He admitted emailing recruits while sitting in church. He scheduled postgame “victory dinners” in an apparent effort to appreciate the journey, only to routinely skip them so he could get a jump on studying film of the next opponent.
One of his daughters once told him they hadn’t had an actual conversation in two years … and he still kept working. When he got to Ohio State, he had to sign a “family contract” — written on pink notebook paper and posted on the wall of his office — that included items such as “I will sleep with my cell phone on silent” and “I will eat three meals a day.”
Now he’s tackling the NFL and the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Lawrence is the centerpiece of the rebuild. What you have is two men who dominated the college ranks teaming up to take on the pro game … with apparently different world views.
Both, no doubt, want to succeed. It’s just this is going to be done via very different mindsets. Lawrence will almost assuredly put in the time at the facility required for greatness — again, there is nothing in his actions that suggest anything else. It’s just that when the Jags lose games this year — and they will — he seems likely to head back home so he can chill with his wife rather than brood in an office like his coach on a Sunday night.
Maybe that’s a positive. Maybe that diversity of perspective may lead to a perfect balance inside the Jaguars facility.
The coach is outwardly obsessed. The quarterback isn’t.
Whatever that all means, it’s going to be something to witness.
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