JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from Jaguars Owner Shad Khan's Tuesday conversation with local media in advance of this week's 2021 NFL Draft …
1.Hope is high. This is obvious, but nevertheless important. Khan, now in his 10th season as the Jaguars' owner, discussed multiple issues Tuesday and focused extensively on Head Coach Urban Meyer's impact on the organization. But what stood out, too, was the excitement around the franchise and the No. 1 overall selection in this week's 2021 NFL Draft. "I want to enjoy the moment," he said. "I want all the fans, all of us in Jacksonville, to enjoy this moment and our time in the national spotlight." He added, "It's unbelievable. If this isn't a moment to enjoy for me 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."
2.Khan likes the direction – and the decision-making process – under Meyer. Khan on Tuesday discussed Meyer extensively, praising his ability to listen, his intelligence and his willingness to adapt to the NFL after 17 seasons as one of the most successful college coaches of all time. "Urban, much to his credit, didn't have the NFL experience but he's been a quick learner and he's really been engaged," Khan said. "The first thing was hiring a staff. Urban had his list. [General Manager] Trent [Baalke] and I had given him some thoughts, but it was Urban's decision. He took all that into account and he did the most thorough interview certainly I've been a part of." Khan added of Meyer's meticulousness, "Devil's in the details. He has more than made up [for a lack of NFL experience] with attributes he's had, which is intelligence, sense of curiosity, desire to learn. These are all attributes I think that you want to have. When it comes to football, I think he's really zeroed in on all those." Added Khan, "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. That's why we have Urban. He needs to decide but then 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."
3.Communication is key. Khan on Tuesday was asked if his role has changed compared to previous offseasons. While Khan specified upon hiring Meyer and Baalke in January that he had control of the roster, on Thursday he called that control "symbolic, for lack of a better word" – and added that "it really doesn't change anything." Khan added, "It's just that you've got to be informed [as an owner]. Who are the players who are the core part of the team? Who needs to get paid? You can't pay everybody regrettably, and we could have done a lot better job, I think, over the last few years on a lot of those. Any business there's micromanagement, there's delegation, and there's abdication. There were times people could have said, 'Hey, you know, you abdicated.' I just want to make sure there's a right amount of involvement. And I think there is right now." Khan added, "You've got to have logic and hard work and transparency. A part of the problem we've had is all the work that was done, if it was done, hadn't been talked about. So, you still had surprises in the draft room. The work that's been done and the engagement really by all of the people has been quite amazing."
4.Coaching is key. One aspect of Meyer's coaching Khan discussed extensively Tuesday was his emphasis on player psyche, something Khan said is a departure from the past. "We have put a lot of emphasis on talent," Khan said. "His [Meyer's] point is that talent is important, but the psyche of the player is probably more important. And then coaching is paramount. He doesn't want to hear a player is a bust, OK? A coach is a bust. The coaches have to have accountability if the players aren't developing, and we made a mistake picking the wrong the player to begin with. I think that sense of accountability is really kind of refreshing. We've always said, 'Well, everything is about talent.' Well, if they don't have the psyche to blend into the team, it's not a good thing. And then if the coaches aren't developing them, then we're going to have what we've had."
5. Khan understand the importance of quarterbacks. Not that Khan ever considered quarterback not important, but he said he has learned just how critical the position is to a team's long-term success. "As I talked to some of the owners and some of the other people, they would say, 'Look, especially with the rules changes, the 52 other players in the NFL, with the talent pool, you can find," he said. "It's that one player (quarterback) is the hardest thing to [find].'' Khan said that's why he has been involved in Zoom meetings with the top prospects at the position in this draft. "I would be focused on that one exact position that, from my viewpoint, I don't want to screw this up, OK?" he said. "That is the one."