Tomorrow could very well be the most important day in Jacksonville Jaguars’ history, and one of the most important days in Jacksonville history in quite some time.
The team is prepared to select its franchise quarterback, one that has eluded the franchise through much of, if not all, of its history and owner Shad Khan is fully aware of what the moment will mean.
“You got to remember, a little over three years ago where we were, hope, optimism, everything, less than three years all the national media, especially, we were the Super Bowl favorite and we all know what happened,” Khan said to a few members of the local media on Tuesday.
Of course, the moment in history that Khan is referring to is the team’s near-Super Bowl run in 2017, when the Jaguars were just 10 minutes away from reaching the big game, ultimately losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC title game.
Since then, the team has won a total of 12 games, including just one game last season which has placed the team in the position they’re set to be in on Thursday. The excitement level and the attention that Jacksonville is going through and receiving is once again at an all-time high, hope has returned.
“I don’t want to be a Debbie downer by any means, I want to enjoy the moment. I want all the fans, all of us in Jacksonville, to enjoy this moment and our time in the national spotlight. If we have hope and we’re winning, obviously, that’s a lot better for the city and it’s a lot better for the Jags.”
That’s exactly what should be expected, too. The Jaguars are presumptively selecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first pick of the draft tomorrow. Lawrence has been thought of as the best passer in football since his freshman season and has been fully expected to be selected with the first pick of this draft seemingly since his high school years.
While the focus on Thursday should be on Lawrence, there has been plenty of eyes set on new head coach Urban Meyer, who was hired in January, kicking off the offseason of excitement for Jacksonville. The culmination of the two - Meyer and Lawrence - has led to the excitement we see today in the city of Jacksonville.
“If this isn’t a moment to enjoy for me to enjoy and for all the Jags fans, you need more coffee. Or you need something else. This is a great-to-be-alive kind of moment, frankly,” said Khan who later would say the excitement, while different, compares to when he purchased the team in 2011.
The Jaguars have undergone a strenuous process to reach the point they are at, likely selecting Lawrence on Thursday. The meticulous nature of Meyer’s process hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Speaking with ESPN’s Adam Schefter via podcast last week, Meyer stated the team narrowed down the list to three quarterbacks: Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields, the top three names that the majority of draft analysts believe are the best quarterbacks in the draft.
There have been multiple zoom calls with all three quarterbacks, but Lawrence is still very clearly the selection, coming out as the one who stood out above all. The process was diligent and with good reason.
“It’s that one player is the hardest thing to (find),’ Meyer said of the quarterback position.
“A number of the teams right now in the rumor mill you hear are looking at a change, and when we talked, they were stable. This is something talking to the owners I got the thinking a few months ago. I would be focused on that one exact position that, from my viewpoint, I don’t want to screw this up, OK.”
Meyer, according to Khan, checked all the boxes even without NFL experience. He presented with intelligence, a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn.
“Football is not a democracy. So let’s be clear about that. But you get all the information out and you discuss it and there are times where not everybody has the same conclusions and somebody’s got to decide. And here, that’s why we have Urban.
“I think, you know, he needs to decide but then there is, you know, you have a process how you came to that decision. And hopefully that helps you the next time you’re making something like that. That was something we didn’t have. It got made and then things didn’t work out you quickly kind of moved away from it, so.”
Meyer is the team’s current face of the franchise and Lawrence is expected to be the next one. The excitement surrounding the team is at an all-time high, and if everything goes the way it is expected to, there shouldn’t be any reason to think the hype will die down anytime soon.