On Friday, the Jacksonville Jaguars held a press conference for Urban Meyer. Meyer was named the sixth head coach in franchise history. After being named the team’s head coach yesterday via a statement released by owner Shad Khan, Meyer fielded plenty of questions from the local Jacksonville media and some national outlets, too.
Among the common theme of the press conference was a need to win. The urgency in Jacksonville is at an all-time high, as is the excitement for the direction of the franchise. According to Jaguars.com’s Ashlyn Sullivan, season ticket sales for the Jaguars have leaped eight-fold ahead of last season’s pace.
According to the Jaguars ticket department, Sullivan says, 50% of their season-ticket deposits came just yesterday after hiring Meyer.
The Jaguars ticket department says 50% of their season ticket deposits came just yesterday after hiring Urban Meyer... they are 8X ahead of prior seasons pace— Ashlyn Sullivan (@ashlynrsullivan) January 15, 2021
I'm told they expect 100 and 200 level tickets to sell out soonhttps://t.co/tMz476pktW
Khan began today’s press conference by first giving thanks to the multiple head coaches he interviewed prior to hiring Meyer, stating that all of them, in his eyes, will be head coaches in the NFL at some point in the future.
“But from this remarkable, talented pool of candidates, one man clearly separated himself from the field,” Khan added.
“As I said yesterday, he’s a winner, a leader and a champion. He’s the man we want and need in Jacksonville. As you’ll see shortly, he wants the challenge. He’s ready. So without further delay, it’s my privilege to introduce the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Urban Meyer.”
Speaking to the media for the first time today, Meyer reiterated that not only was it the right time for him to return to coaching, it was also the right time for Jacksonville, too.
“Duval is a very special place to me,” said Meyer.
“Duval is a very special to me, and I’m excited to be back in the great state of Florida. The work has begun to get this team where it needs to be and my primary focus as we speak is to put together a great staff. I’ve been very supported by some incredible coaches throughout the years and I expect to do the same here in Jacksonville.”
Here are six key takeaways from Meyer’s first appearance as Jaguars HC:
1. Meyer believes Jacksonville was the “perfect” situation for him to return
Prior to his hire, the majority of observers rightfully questioned not only why Meyer would return, considering his health issues in the past, but also why the Jaguars in particular was a landing spot.
On Friday, Meyer answered those questions, but specifically why Jacksonville was the right spot for him, mentioning Khan, and the team’s resources (the No. 1 overall pick, and cap space) made the Jaguars’ gig attractive.
“I think Shad and the organization is positioned, and it’s not by accident . . . Shad got very involved in the entire roster, etcetera,” said Meyer. “I think it’s primed to put together a good team. I think, Gene, we know each other, and people that know me, I’m not going to jump into a situation where I don’t believe we can win. I won’t do that.”
The Jaguars will need plenty of help, and Meyer is committed to hiring not a good staff, but “great” staff, he says.
There have already been recommendations for the staff given to Meyer, and his response is simple:
“My comment is, ‘Save me a recommendation unless you feel that person is elite in all areas because that’s what Jacksonville deserves and that’s what we’re going to have on our staff.”
2. Meyer has been intrigued by the NFL for quite some time
Meyer mentioned on multiple occasions that the prospect of joining the pros has been on his mind for the better part of a decade, but it wasn’t until perhaps six months ago that the head coach decided to take a full, detailed, deep dive into what it would take. Those details include salary cap management, roster management and more to get started.
He spoke with multiple players to get a gauge, too.
“I was just intrigued, you know, why does this organization win, why does this organization fail to win. The research was very strong. It was something, I was not surprised at the results. Players will tell you. The players know. Sometimes you talk to coaches, I’m not sure they all know. I don’t know. But players are the ones who play the game,” said Meyer.
“I really value the guys that I have in the NFL. I spent hours upon hours, I did work on this and I spoke to Shad about that. That was our conversation, we really had a nice conversation at the Super Bowl a year ago, I believe it was in Miami. And then we just recently had a very in-depth conversation, for many, many hours.”
3. Meyer’s commitment to winning is unmistakable, but there will be an adjustment
One thing that was made perfectly clear today was Meyer’s commitment to winning. Meyer’s past achievements are well-documented. He has won three national championships, including two at the University of Florida and one at Ohio State University. He’s been there, done that, but not yet in the NFL.
The NFL is a different beast, and Meyer is well aware of that. Gone are the days of two losses being a failed season at a big-time program. In the NFL, every team is on a relatively even playing field. In college, the parity is quite different with only a few teams at the top of the charts, expected to win every game.
“You’re in a league that is designed to be .500. You’re talking about Coach Belichick, one of my great persons and a person I’ve always admired. He’s the best of all time. You’re talking about a 60-something percent winning percentage,” Meyer mentioned.
“I coached at Utah where we were picked to lose most of our games. I 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 your games. That’s the biggest challenge is looking across the field and saying, ‘they got what you got.’ Or sometimes, ‘they got more than you got.’”
In picking Jacksonville, Meyer mentioned that Khan’s commitment to winning was the reason he was even “standing behind the mic.”
“He is invested in our organization and I’m telling you now the reason I’m standing behind the mic, he wants to win. He wants to win not for himself he wants to win for Jacksonville.”
4. The Jaguars will be fast, 4 to 6, A-B principle is in play
One of the key tenets of Meyer’s philosophy throughout his coaching career has been a “4 to 6, A-B” mentality. Meaning, running hard for 4-6 seconds (the length of a given play) and rushing hard during a play from one direct point to another (A to B). That mentality is something he wants to instill in his players at every landing spot, including the Jaguars.
“My vision, my dream has always been to be the fastest team on the field. When I say fastest, not necessarily 40 time fast, but fast,” Meyer explained. The key to the philosophy is such that effort overcomes mistakes.
While the team may not have many “speedsters,” Meyer isn’t suggesting everyone has to run a 4.30 40-yard dash at the combine, but to play fast, which Meyer says is playing “fearless,” is to be able to play as hard as possible on any given play, to be smart in how the team plays, to be fast.
Those same philosophies will certainly be carried with the Jaguars, who, at times, and particularly on defense, appeared far too slow to the football, not playing fearlessly. The transition will take time, but it is something Meyer plans to set in place, able to adapt to the pro game.
5. Health questions addressed, a different approach will be used
The past two stops for Meyer have been marred with the controversy surrounding his health. It has all been addressed and is in the past, however, there are some key questions that needed to be answered considering he retired twice already due to health concerns.
Meyer says that he has taken a “preventative” approach as it comes to the headaches that frequented him during his stints at Florida and Ohio State.
“That’s something that I’m going to watch closely. I’ve had long, detailed conversations with people that have helped me through that: physicians that are very close to me,” he said.
The new Jaguars head coach had a procedure to address some of his health concerns in 2014, which have helped him, he says. But, moving forward he will be less active, he’s getting older, he added.
“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,” Meyer says. “Those days are gone. I know what it’s supposed to look like and I want to be very demanding of everyone. It’s something I’m going to watch very closely.”
6. It will be Urban’s ship, and that should be embraced
As far as head coaches are concerned, Urban Meyer is a whale, and that’s exactly what owner Shad Khan wanted when he began the search for the next leader of his franchise. In the past, the Jaguars have not necessarily a collective. The general manager will choose the players, and the head coach will coach the players chosen.
Now, the team is taking a step in the right direction to the modern-day NFL, to becoming a head coach-centric team.
Now, still, that does not necessarily mean that Meyer will control the ins and outs of the organization, no that wouldn’t be ideal for a first-year NFL head coach. Instead, what Khan says is the general manager selected, who should be picked within the next week, will cater to Meyer’s philosophies and needs, and the trio (Khan, Meyer and the GM) will work as a collective to make decisions.
“I hope we’ll have an announcement or something in the next week or so (on the Jaguars’ next GM), but the object is going to be that – and I shared this with Urban, and he’s onboard, both of them will be reporting to me but everybody in the organization, we’re going to be carrying out obviously Urban’s vision of the team and the kind of players we want.”
For far too long, the Jaguars have worked under simply archaic structuring, and it was shown to hurt the team in the long run. Now, that process has changed, and Meyer will be the leader of the ship, and that’s a good thing.