The Jacksonville Jaguars introduced their new coach, Urban Meyer, to the football community Friday as the team fired Doug Marrone on Jan. 4. In his opening presser, both Meyer and owner Shad Khan addressed the media for about 30 minutes, laying out their vision for the team heading forward.
As a legend in the area and three-time national champion who has won the ultimate college game with Ohio State and Florida, there was a lot of excitement surrounding Meyer’s introduction. Of course, he gave the media plenty to talk about with him speaking for half an hour. However, we took out the five biggest takeaways in which fans should keep in mind.
The Jags' assets appealed to him and provides a chance to win/ be successful
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
If Meyer was going to come out of retirement, fans knew the situation had to be perfect — and that's exactly how he viewed the Jags' vacancy. With the No. 1 overall pick, the most projected cap of any team for 2021, and willing ownership, Meyer felt that an offer like the Jags' in the NFL was a rare one. "I think Shad and the organization is positioned [well], and it’s not by accident," Meyer said to Florida Times-Union writer Gene Frenette. "Shad got very involved in the entire roster, etc. and I think it’s prime to put together a good team. I think, Gene, we know each other and people know me. I’m not going to jump into a situation where I don’t believe we can win. I won’t do that." Now, it will be a matter of putting those resources to good use. Meyer says he's been studying the NFL for a while but has done it on a higher level the last six months, so it appears he's well informed about the situation he's entering.
He's going to build an elite staff, which could make his run in the NFL less stressful
Of course, one of the main concerns fans had with Meyer is his health situation as he's stated that stress took a toll on him at Florida and Ohio State. Most would argue that the NFL could be equally demanding on someone with concerning issues like Meyer, but he made it known that he was going to build a situation that would hopefully alleviate the pressure off of him. "I’m older and it’s [health] something I’m going to be conscientious of," Meyer said. "It’s something I’m going to watch very closely. I will be the head coach, but I’m going to hire great coaches that are going to be expected to do their job. I’m not going to be running around like a nut on the practice field, those days are gone. I’m certainly going to—I know what it’s supposed to look like and I want to be very demanding of everyone." Meyer has already been linked to many coaches who have been assistants for him, and some he's simply known for years. He also seems to be targeting some coaches with loads of NFL experience for key roles like his mentor, Scott Linehan, who seems to be the top candidate for the Jags' offensive coordinator job. Only time will tell how Meyer fares health-wise. However, the plan he's laid out seems to be detailed and is one that could flourish despite him being more of a supervisor.
He's well aware that the NFL is a level playing field and understands win don't come easy
October 2, 2010; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Florida head coach Urban Meyer visits with Alabama head coach Nick Saban on the field during warmups before their game at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
As we've said, Meyer is as organized of a coach that you will find and is a student of the game of football in general. Over the last half of 2020, he studied the game thoroughly. Of course, in the process, he discovered how hard it is to win and pointed out that even the great Bill Belichick isn't as high above .500 as some would think. "Winning [will be the hardest challenge on this level]," Meyer said Friday. "You’re in a league that is designed to be .500. You’re talking about Coach [Bill] Belichick, one of my great friends, a person I’ve always admired. He’s the best of all time and you’re talking about a .686 winning percentage. You’re talking about the league is built to be .500 and that’s—I’ve coached at Utah where we were picked to lose most of our games, I’ve coached at Bowling Green where we were picked to lose most of our games, and then Florida and Ohio State, you’re picked to win most of the games." Meyer is absolutely right, as the NFL hasn't been kind to first-year coaches coming from the college game. Nick Saban is a coach that comes to mind as he was 15-17 during his time as the Miami Dolphins head coach. While most would consider him one of the best football coaches of all time, the NFL was a humbling process for Saban. All of that said, fans are hoping Meyer can have a transition much like Jim Harbaugh, Jimmy Johnson, and Pete Carroll (was an NFL head coach before joining Seattle). Rounding up a good staff, a solid run in free-agency, and acquiring Trevor Lawrence could help significantly, but Meyer has a lot of work to do to achieve those feats.
Meyer wants a team that plays fast and doesn't want to make things overly complicated on his players
September 8, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Darryl Baldwin (76) offensive lineman Andrew Norwell (78) head coach Urban Meyer offensive lineman Jack Mewhort (74) and punter Ben Buchanan (17) sing Carmen Ohio after the game against the UCF Knights at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 31-16. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Every coach has a philosophy and a vision for their teams right out of the gate. For Doug Marrone, the team wanted to be a physical team that had a ground and pound mindset. However, under Meyer, it appears the main philosophy will be to play fast and fearless. This is otherwise known as the "4 to 6, A-B" philosophy, something Meyer has long believed in. "My vision and my dream has always been the fastest team on the field and the team that plays, when I say fastest, not necessarily 40 time, but fast [with certainty]," Meyer said. "And the reason you play fast—the four to six is, I want a team that plays fearless, and that first falls on the coaching staff. One way to take a great player and slow him down is to be too complicated. And that, I can assure you, that will not happen and if it will, I’ll step in." Sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun for the fans to watch the transition. Meyer's philosophy is one often used on the college level, and with a lot of the Jags' players not that far removed from their time in the NCAA, it could be something that they are more than willing to buy into.
Shad Khan is now moving to a coach-centric style, which means it's Meyer's team
Apr 25, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Urban Meyer walks onto the stage prior to the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Other teams have followed their lead like the Seattle Seahawks -- and Khan made it clear that the Jags will be joining the party. This isn't the only time Khan spoke about the lack of transparency and collaboration as he said he wanted to be more hands-on when Marrone was fired. With the past front-office leaders, it seems as if Khan wasn't informed about notable contract situations and key roster transactions, and clearly, he believes Meyer can handle that while keeping him informed. That said, the Jags plan to still hire a general manager, but unlike Doug Marrone and Gus Bradley, Meyer won't work for him or the front office — he will be the leader of football operations it seems. "I mean, I’ve talked to Urban about our general manager, who it ought to be and we’re working together on it," said Khan. "I hope we’ll have an announcement or something in the next week or so, but the objective is going to be that—and I’ve shared this with Urban, he’s onboard—both of them will be reporting to me. But everybody in the organization, I mean, we’re going to be carrying out Urban’s vision of the team and the kind of players we want." It will be interesting to see who is named the Jags' general manager in the coming days. The Jags interviewed notables like Rick Smith, Jerry Reese, Ray Farmer, and interim Trent Baalke earlier in the month, but most of the fans feel there are better options the Jags should look at. Regardless of who is named the general manager though, fans should expect the relationship between him and Meyer to be like Belichick and Nicholas Caserio's.
He's not showing his hand when it comes to the first overall pick, but fans shouldn't overthink it
Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) walks off the field after a loss against the LSU Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Of course, with the top pick in the draft, Meyer was asked about the upcoming quarterback class. As expected, he didn't show favoritism to any of the draft's top signal-caller and listed multiple players of note instead of one. "You see [Clemson QB] Trevor [Lawrence], you see [Ohio State QB] Justin [Fields], you see [BYU QB] Zach [Wilson]," said Meyer. "As Shad said, this is a monumental moment for this franchise. We’ve seen some franchises explode and we’ve seen others fail. I’ve said this many times throughout my career is that when the NFL says it’s a quarterback league, I would say ‘well so is college and so is high school, so is Pop Warner.’ It’s a quarterback sport, so whoever takes that snap, we have got to be right on." These statements made many football analysts wonder if anyone aside from Lawrence could be taken first overall. While nothing is guaranteed, fans shouldn't follow this trend and overthink this. Lawrence is the draft's top player, and despite Meyer's ties to Ohio State, he was retired when Fields took his first snap with the Buckeyes. Besides, Meyer has already tipped his hand by ranking Lawrence over Fields last June as an analyst. While Fields had an excellent 2020 season, he wasn't able to overtake Lawrence, which isn't a knock on the young Buckeye by any means. https://twitter.com/CFBONFOX/status/1268324302593511424?s=20