In the NFL, there is Patrick Mahomes and then there is everyone else. Two of the quarterbacks fighting to be on that second tier, behind Mahomes, are Trevor Lawrence and Joe Burrow. Through four games in 2023, however, neither former No. 1 overall draft pick is doing much at all. Here are their stat lines:
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars: 96 of 143, 943 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions.
Lawrence has been outplayed by rookie CJ Stroud and Patrick Mahomes. Even Anthony Richardson played at least as well as Lawrence did when the team played the Colts. In fact, the only quarterback that Lawrence has outplayed so far this season is Atlanta’s Desmond Ridder. In the Jaguar’s final eight regular season games of 2022, they were 6-2 and won their final five contests. Trevor Lawrence passed for 2,273 yards on 69.7% completions with 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Things have changed to start off the 2023 season.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals: 87 of 151, 728 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Burrow has been limited by a calf injury so far this season, and the question is whether or not that is all. He has not been accurate at all so far in 2023. His 57.6% completion rate through three games is almost exactly 10 percentage points lower than his career average. The Bengals offense has looked, for lack of a better word, clunky. They are playing like there is no game plan. Mixon looks slow and indecisive, the offensive line is struggling, and Tee Higgins cannot get open. Burrow has to either start producing or give his calf some rest.
Trevor Lawrence vs. Joe Burrow
There is no real competition between Lawrence and Burrow in terms of production. Trevor Lawrence has a lot of potential, but he had about nine games of good production at the end of last year. Joe Burrow, on the other hand, has been to a Super Bowl and a conference championship since 2021. Lawrence was drafted to turn around a struggling franchise, Burrow already has turned around a struggling franchise. The problem now, however, is that neither quarterback is producing right now.
Joe Burrow’s Struggles
Burrow is hurt. The calf strain that he has been struggling with all season seems to sneak up on him at different times. Under normal circumstances, a calf strain should not affect a quarterback as much as it seems to be affecting Burrow. In the case of the Bengal’s quarterback, however, there are extenuating circumstances. Whether the Bengal’s offensive line is below average or Joe Burrow hangs onto the ball for too long, he gets pressured and hit a lot. When Burrow cannot move, he cannot extend plays and get out of the pocket to open up throwing lanes. With that aspect of his game nonexistent, Burrow has struggled and will probably continue to struggle.
Trevor Lawrence’s Struggles
Trevor Lawrence’s struggles are a bit more concerning than Burrow’s. Lawrence is not hurt, he has more weapons than he has ever had, and he is in the second year of a stable coaching environment. He is getting the ball out of his hand quickly and he even seems to be making good decisions with the football. There is not one single problem to pinpoint or one single injury to blame. Something about Lawrence and this offense is off. The offensive line has not played well, but hopefully, there will be great improvement when Cam Robinson returns this Sunday. The receivers have eight drops this season which ties them for the most in the NFL. Even those drops are not the real problem and should be fixable. It is time for Lawrence to step up and reach the potential he truly has.
Which Quarterback Will Bounce Back First
The Bengals started 0-2 last year and were 2-3 after the first five games. If the Burrow plays well and the Bengals win this week, they will be just where they started last season. Burrow is a proven commodity in the NFL, and it seems reasonable to believe he will bounce back into the conversation of “best quarterback in the NFL not named Patrick Mahomes” soon. The question is whether or not he needs to take some time off to get there.
The Jaguars are sitting in a much better position than the Bengals. The team is 2-2, and playing in an AFC South that seems to be very winnable. Trevor Lawrence flashed brilliance as a quarterback and leader last season. The addition of Calvin Ridley, while there are some growing pains right now, should help Trevor take that next step as soon as he learns to use all of his weapons. There could also be an immediate improvement in the offensive line when the team’s starting left tackle, Cam Robinson, returns this weekend.
With everything that is going against and going for both players, it seems logical to believe that Lawrence will bounce back first. While his first four games have left a lot to be desired, the combination of receivers dropping catchable balls and not getting their feet down when they should have changed the start of this season for Lawrence. He is a couple of drops away from a 7:2 ratio of touchdowns:interceptions and well over 1,000 yards passing on the year. Expect Lawrence to play his best game in London against the Bills this weekend and to out-duel Josh Allen for the win.
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