The last time Urban Meyer coached a football game was on Dec. 4, 2018.
Now, nearly three years later he had the opportunity to put the headset back on, coaching in the NFL with the Jaguars for its first preseason game of the season against the Cleveland Browns.
True to form following the team’s 23-13 loss against the Cleveland Browns, Meyer was honest about how he felt getting back out there.
“It felt great. Until I looked up and saw 85 yards at halftime,” he said following the game.
That’s how the Jaguars’ night went, at least during the first half of action offensively.
While rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a decent night, completing 6 out of 9 of his passes for 71 yards on the day, the offense was sluggish and couldn’t gain much steam during Lawrence’s reps, and certainly not when Gardner Minshew II came into the game.
“I don’t like slow offenses, and I told those—I thought the third quarter was better with just tempo, getting up the line of scrimmage, snap the ball,” said Meyer. “I don’t want to be one of those slow, wallowing offenses, and we’ll go and get that fixed.”
The Jaguars’ offense finished the first half with drives that ended in: punt, downs, punt, punt, interception. That included one three-and-out, and a three-play drive to finish the half with no time remaining, leading to the aforementioned interception.
Protection was also an issue. On Lawrence’s first snap, the rookie quarterback would be sacked, fumbling the football, but ultimately recovering it. He would be sacked a second time, though he held onto the ball for far too long.
It wasn’t all bad for the Jacksonville offense, however. During the third quarter, when third-string QB CJ Beathard entered the fray, the team seemed to click far better, executing drives of 11 and 14 plays coming out of halftime.
The drives would end in a missed 47-yard field goal by Josh Lambo and a touchdown to Tavon Austin.
C.J. Beathard finds Tavon Austin for the @Jaguars TD!— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 15, 2021
: #CLEvsJAX on NFL Network (or check local listings) pic.twitter.com/0bt7i4gwic
Meyer complimented receiver Josh Hammond and Austin, both would finish with several catches, including Austin’s touchdown. Still, the team will need to get back DJ Chark Jr., and Phillip Dorsett as soon as possible to help with the rest of the first-team offense moving forward.
“I saw the same thing you did, ‘Let’s move the ball up the field,’ and we didn’t do it.”
Defensively, the Jaguars looked like a new and improved team, at least so far as the run defense was concerned. The team played physical and fast, allowing just 41 rushing yards on 26 attempts (1.6 yards-per-attempt) to the Browns on Saturday.
The pass defense, however, was a different story during the first half, with the Jaguars allowing backup QB Case Keenum to complete 12 out of 17 of his passes for 115 yards on the day. A couple of those longer completions would come via the screen game, something that Meyer was none too pleased with.
“The two screen plays came, it was like we never saw a screen before, and they came out, Cleveland executed it [well] and we just didn’t play well on the screens.”
Overall, though, Meyer was pleased with the defensive performance, noting the team’s physical nature.
“Yeah, I thought good energy,” Meyer said of the defense. “I thought we’re going to—we are—Baltimore and it’s the Jaguars style. Joe Cullen—I thought the defensive line, we made some investment in the defensive line. I never felt like we lost the line of scrimmage on the defense. Obviously, we’ve just got to make a couple plays when the ball is in the air.”
A few of the team’s young defensive backs showed why they belonged on Saturday, including CJ Henderson, Andre Cisco and Tyson Campbell. All three players made plays on the ball, though Campbell had one miscue, allowing a receiver to catch the football just above him in the endzone.
The Jaguars’ next preseason matchup will come against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans on Monday Night Football.