Jacksonville Jaguars ‘planning’ surprising decision with QB Trevor Lawrence for Week 14


Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence suffered a high-ankle sprain on Monday Night Football in Week 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals. When the injury was announced, many viewed it as a foregone conclusion that Lawrence wouldn’t play in Week 14.

The Jaguars immediately started preparing as if Lawrence wouldn’t play on Sunday. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard handled the first-team reps in practice and the team signed Nathan Rourke from its practice squad to the active roster.

  • Trevor Lawrence stats 2023: 94.4 QB rating, 3004 passing yards, 14-7 TD-INT, 7.5 yards per attempt, 250.3 passing yards per game, 67.9 percent completion rate, 8-4 record

Related: NFL QB rankings

However, the NFL standings put Jacksonville in a difficult spot. After losing to the Bengals, the Jaguars hold just a one-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Houston Texans in the AFC South. Lawrence sitting on Sunday would jeopardize Jacksonville’s control of the division and a first-round home playoff game.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Jaguars are “planning” to start Lawrence on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. While there will be a pregame evaluation during warmups, the current expectation is Jacksonville’s franchise quarterback will draw the start.

Notably, per Schefter, Lawrence has never missed a game due to injury dating back to his high school days. He gives Jacksonville the best chance to win and while he’ll be limited, the organization believes he’s ready to play.

However, history isn’t on the Jagurs’ side. While high-ankle sprains are fairly rare for quarterbacks, there is one example of a signal-caller playing through the injury and it backfired on the team.

Will Trevor Lawrence play this week?

Syndication: Florida Times-Union
Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Trevor Lawrence is expected to play today against the Browns. However, a fairly recent history of quarterbacks playing on a high-ankle sprain and this specific matchup against the Browns could prove to be problematic.

  • Trevor Lawrence contract: $10.034 million cap hit in 2023, $11.707 million cap hit in 2024, 2025 fifth-year team option (fully guaranteed)

In 2011, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played through a high-ankle sprain against the San Francisco 49ers. In that Dec. 19 matchup at Candlestick Park, Roethlisberger threw three interceptions, took three sacks and completed just 25-of-44 pass attempts in a 20-3 loss.

Not only did Roethlisberger deliver one of the worst performances of his career, but it came at an additional cost. After playing through the injury, the pain and ineffectiveness were bad enough that he missed the following game. While Pittsburgh still made the playoffs, Roethlisberger completed just 45-of-80 passes (56.3 percent completion rate) with a 1-1 TD-INT line and seven sacks in his final two games that year.

Lawrence’s injury will also greatly negate his ability to move around the pocket and evade pressure on Sunday. That’s troublesome for Jacksonville, with an offensive line that ranks 16th in ESPN’s pass-block win rate (43 percent) against a Browns’ defense that has the second-highest pressure rate (27.1 percent) and the highest quarterback knockdown rate (11.5 percent) in the NFL.

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