The Jacksonville Jaguars have a new head coach and a rookie starting quarterback, but Urban Meyer does not expect the team to be viewed as a rebuilding project.
Trevor Lawrence will almost certainly be the Jaguars’ starting quarterback in Week 1, though Meyer refuses to make that official. The coach also claimed this week that the Jags are not going to be all that patient with Lawrence and expect the former Clemson star to perform in his first NFL season.
“If he’s not the quarterback we think we can win with — we haven’t made that decision,” Meyer told NFL.com’s Judy Battista. “It’s not a four-year plan. It’s not fair to these players. It’s a one-year plan.”
That is almost certainly an exaggeration. Remember, Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions in his rookie season. The Indianapolis Colts didn’t bail on him, and the Jaguars aren’t going to give up on Lawrence no matter what happens in 2021. They aren’t going to fire Meyer after one year, either.
Gardner Minshew made it clear with a hilarious quote recently that he is still fighting for a starting job. It would take an awful lot for him to earn it, just as it would take an awful lot for Meyer to abandon the franchise’s long-term plan in Year 1.
Trevor Lawrence has officially signed his first NFL contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars announced on Monday that Lawrence has signed his rookie deal. The contract is worth $36.8 million over four years with $24.1 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports. It also includes the standard fifth-year rookie option.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared some of the specific language in the deal:
More deal details:
Signing bonus paid within 15 business days. No offset language. Majority of compensation in 2022, ‘23, ‘24 in Roster Bonus. Earned if on 90-man roster on 3rd day after mandatory camp reporting date. Earns roster bonus even if on active NFI. https://t.co/EOxzF3RJTN
The Jacksonville Jaguars are definitely of interest to a lot of football fans, but not necessarily because big things are expected of them in 2021. Wide receiver D.J. Chark seems to feel that higher expectations might be warranted.
Chark suggested that new coach Urban Meyer and the team’s new additions were going to turn things around quickly in Jacksonville thanks to their experience in “winning programs.” He also added that he felt the Jaguars were going to “shock a lot of people” in 2021.
“Just to go out there and compete, be better than what we were last year,” Chark told NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz on “NFL Total Access” Friday, via Jelani Scott of NFL.com. “The 1-15 season is somewhere that we don’t want to go back. Everyone that’s here understands that. The guys that came in came from a lot of winning programs so we’re trying to develop that winning culture and just that comradery here and I think we’re going to do really good. I think we’re gonna shock a lot of people. I’m not one of the people that’s huge on setting record goals or anything like that, or saying how many wins or losses we’re gonna have but we’re gonna be an exciting football team, for sure.”
Plenty of NFL fans will have an eye on the Jaguars due to Meyer’s presence, as well as top draft picks Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. There’s also Tim Tebow, though that intrigue may not last very long.
Still, while some improvement is expected, the big strides Chark seems to be hinting at would definitely be a surprise. There is definitely an expectation that there will be some growing pains for the likes of Lawrence, even as polished as he is. Plus, there are some skeptical that Meyer will be a success in the NFL. Even contention from the Jaguars would come as a surprise in 2021.
Urban Meyer’s first period of NFL OTAs has ended with a pretty hefty fine.
Meyer was among three coaches fined by the NFL for OTA violations on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Both Meyer’s and the Jaguars’ fines were the heaviest at $200,000 for the franchise and $100,000 for Meyer.
49ers were fined $100,000 and Kyle Shanahan $50,000.
Jaguars were fined $200,000 and Urban Meyer $100,000.
Cowboys were fined $100,000 and Mike McCarthy $50,000.
It is likely that the Jaguars will also lose OTA days in 2022 as part of the punishment, which is a typical step the NFL takes against violators.
While the nature of these violations was not disclosed, the NFL typically takes these actions against teams found to have engaged in excessive on-field contact during drills.
Meyer’s adjustment to the NFL has not been without its growing pains. This looks like another example of that. While the Jaguars aren’t the only team in trouble for OTA violations, the fact that they received the biggest fine suggests that their rules violations were the most egregious.
Tim Tebow has drawn mixed reviews in his first offseason as an NFL tight end, and Urban Meyer will soon have to decide if his former quarterback is worth keeping on the roster. With one month to go until training camp, Tebow has limited time remaining to impress the Jacksonville Jaguars’ coaching staff. Will he be able to do enough?
John Reid of the Florida Times-Union provided a breakdown of the current state of the Jaguars’ tight end position. The way he sees it, the odds are stacked against Tebow. Jacksonville has six tight ends vying for three or four roster spots, and veterans Chris Manhertz and James O’Shaughnessy seem like locks to make the 53-man roster. Fifth-round rookie Luke Farrell is also expected to make the team. That leaves Tebow, Tyler Davis and Ben Ellefson fighting for one spot, unless Meyer only carries three tight ends.
Meyer referred to O’Shaughnessy and Ellefson as “two of the most improved really on the team” this offseason. He recently said Tebow has done a “decent job” and spoke about how difficult it is to make an NFL roster.
There are very few people who believe Tim Tebow has a legitimate chance to make the Jacksonville Jaguars’ final roster, but that does not mean the former quarterback is embarrassing himself this offseason.
ESPN’s Michael DiRocco said on “Get Up!” Monday that Tebow has not looked out of place while working with the tight ends at organized team activities. The reporter said Tebow “looked like he belonged” at practice on Monday.
.@ESPNdirocco on Tim Tebow practicing at TE during the Jaguars' OTAs:
"He didn't look out of place. He looked like he belonged. … If people were expecting him to look like he didn't know what he was doing, that's not the case." pic.twitter.com/2aGU8isqTF
“His fundamentals need work. His footwork’s a little slow,” DiRocco said. “He’s getting some coaching after every drill, but if people were expecting him to look like he didn’t know what he’s doing, that’s not the case.”
Urban Meyer has said it is unclear what role the team will use Tebow in when training camp begins next month. He could be used as a true tight end or more of a “gadget” player.
DiRocco also reported that Tebow is very well-liked by his teammates and no one has taken issue with him being in camp.
Plenty of people have taken shots at Tebow over his comeback attempt, and that is likely fueling the 33-year-old. He obviously has a close relationship with Meyer, which could be a factor when the final roster is set. At the very least, it doesn’t sound like Tebow is going to make Meyer’s decision easy.
Urban Meyer has his hands full these days preparing for his first ever season as an NFL head coach, but the new leader of the Jacksonville Jaguars took some time out of his busy schedule on Sunday to get involved in a wrestling pay-per-view event.
Meyer and assistant head coach Charlie Strong made an appearance at All Elite Wrestling’s “Double or Nothing,” which took place at TIAA Bank Field. Chris Jericho and Maxwell Jacob Friedman made their way into Meyer’s office during their Stadium Stampede match, and Meyer and Strong gave Jericho an assist in pounding his opponent.
Meyer was even kind enough to loan out his laptop so Jericho could beat MJF with it. Here’s the video:
AEW is owned by the Khan family, who also own the Jaguars.
Meyer ended the scene by saying “holy s—,” which is out of character for the longtime coach. Jericho said after the event that he appreciated Meyer being such a good sport.
“He was super awesome,” Jericho said, via Joseph Straszewski of the New York Post. “And the best part was when we said, ‘Do you mind saying holy s—?’ And I thought he’d say no, he was like, ‘Yeah I’ll say it.’ I was like that’s great. … Like a great action move there’s a little levity. The Urban Meyer scene was great. We played it straight so it’s not ha-ha slap-stick comedy, and he was one of the highlights for sure. It was a lot of fun.”
Urban Meyer’s transition to the NFL has not been without its issues, and those issues may not be finished, either.
Jaguars vice president of football operations strategy Karim Kassam abruptly left the organization last week after being hired in February. The departure raised eyebrows, as Kassam had left a job with the Minnesota Twins to take the important position.
Some NFL executives view this as another example of Jacksonville’s history of organizational clashes, with Meyer’s desire to change the culture facing some growing pains.
“There is going to be constant turnover there, trust me,” one NFL executive told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. “If you know anything about the people and the personalities involved, you can see it coming a mile away. There is going to be a constant churn.”
“Won’t be the last time someone doesn’t make it through the season there,” another executive added.
Meyer has already run into these issues before, as controversial strength coach Chris Doyle did not last long before being forced to resign. The NFL is definitely different from college football, and the Jaguars have never been known for being run particularly well from the top. Those two factors could ensure that Meyer has a lot of growing pains staff-wise.
It’s no secret that all NFL teams do their own prospect evaluations leading up to the NFL Draft. The ratings give a window into what teams thought of potential draftees. But the numbers almost always stay secret.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, whether intentional or not, didn’t really care about keeping some of their own ratings secret. The team’s behind-the-scenes video series “The Hunt” included video from inside the team’s war room. Unusually, the finished video does not blur out any of the draft grades, even for players not selected by the team.
Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports pointed out that Trevor Lawrence, the team’s first overall pick, received an 8.0 under the team’s grading system. Interestingly, that’s the same grade the Jaguars assigned to Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who went No. 6 overall to the Miami Dolphins. For context, while we don’t know the exact system the Jaguars use, the typical scale goes from 3.0 or 4.0 up to 9.0, suggesting the Jaguars viewed both Lawrence and Waddle as high-level prospects. Had Jacksonville’s quarterback need not been so great, one has to wonder if Waddle may have even been in contention for the top pick.
A few other grades could be visible in the video. Quarterback Zach Wilson, the second overall pick, got a 7.0 from the Jaguars. A few players drafted later in the first round, namely linebacker Jaelan Phillips and offensive lineman Ali Vera-Tucker, got 7.5 ratings. Travis Etienne, the Jaguars’ other first-round selection, got a respectable 7.0 grade. The most underwhelming grade visible for a first-rounder went to new Indianapolis pass-rusher Kwity Paye, who got what appeared to be a 6.8.
A few other second- and third-round selections are visible, but those aforementioned ratings are the biggest ones of interest. The ratings suggest that the gap between Lawrence and Wilson, at least in the scouting department’s eyes, was pretty wide. It also seems to indicate that the Jaguars probably think the Dolphins had a pretty good first round.
It’s probably not great that none of this was blurred. Some players could take it as motivation, while others could use it to second-guess the team if, for example, Wilson ends up having a much better pro career than Lawrence. That said, it’s an interesting look behind-the-scenes at a key part of draft prep that we don’t normally have access to except through rumors and hearsay.
Trevor Lawrence knew for months leading up to the NFL Draft that the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to take him with the first overall pick. Waiting until draft night to announce the pick was simply a formality for the team, and it was one that nearly backfired.
Lawrence was at home with his family the night of the draft waiting to officially celebrate the start of his NFL career. When the Jaguars were on the clock at No. 1, they tried to get Lawrence on the phone to deliver the news that the former Clemson star knew was coming. There was one big problem, however — the team’s calls weren’t getting through.
Eventually, Urban Meyer was able to reach Lawrence from his personal cell phone. You can see the comically tense situation unfold below:
The @Jaguars have been doing a fabulous job putting together behind the scenes clips with their “The Hunt” series on YouTube. They almost had a scare on draft night when their calls to Trevor Lawrence kept on going to voicemail.
The Jaguars could have announced their pick at any point, as there was no doubt there were picking Lawrence. Still, getting the call and celebrating with your family is all part of the draft experience. We’re glad Lawrence wasn’t robbed of that.