Urban Meyer, Trevor Lawrence discuss 4th-and-goal decision against Titans
Jacksonville didn’t have many chances to make its loss to Tennessee on Sunday competitive, but one moment in the fourth quarter does stand out. Trailing 31-19, quarterback Trevor Lawrence scrambled on third and goal and appeared to have crossed the goal line, with the play being ruled a touchdown.
But upon review, it was called back, and the Jaguars’ play call on fourth-and-goal was confusing to some. Despite having his best game of the season, running back James Robinson was out of the game on that play. Instead, Lawrence handed the ball to Carlos Hyde, who was stuffed in the backfield for a loss and a turnover on downs, essentially ending any comeback threat.
On Monday, Meyer explained why he didn’t make a change when he saw Hyde in the game.
“I do use the veto power quite often,” he said. “In that situation I saw Carlos, I trust Carlos… I didn’t make a change.”
This tracks with Meyer’s comment after the game that he didn’t want to “micromanage” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. In addition to taking Robinson off the field, Meyer also elected to not run a quarterback sneak with Lawrence, who had inches to go and had already scored on the ground earlier in the game.
“I just met with Bev (OC Darrell Bevell) and we talked about it. I don’t micromanage who’s in the game,” Meyer said Sunday. “I should have — James is running really hard, but so is Carlos. I’ve got to go find out if something was dinged up with James on that situation. And the quarterback sneak, he’s not quite comfortable with that yet. We’ve been practicing that. I know that might sound silly, but when you’ve never done it, it’s something that we need to continue to make that, so you can make that call in that critical situation.”
It’s understandable that Meyer didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on his rookie quarterback, but after the game, Lawrence said he would be confident running that play in a real game.
“No, I feel comfortable,” he said. “Obviously, I haven’t really ran it before in a game, but I feel comfortable. It’s something we’ve worked. We trust our guys up front, we trust our backs in that situation. Obviously, I’d love to get in there, but if we make the play, it’s like no one says anything, but it’s a TFL, and that doesn’t look great obviously. So, we all can get better. But no, a QB sneak is something we can all get to and I feel comfortable with.”
It’s pretty hard to justify not allowing either your star running back or your 6-foot, 5-inch quarterback to carry the ball in that situation, and the decision may have cost the Jags a chance to compete late in the game.
As the team will head to London next week looking to avoid an 0-6 start, the Jaguars will need to be a lot better about capitalizing in the red zone.