JACKSONVILLE – This mattered to Urban Meyer. A lot.
His first major objective as the Jaguars' new head coach was to hire an elite staff, one with extensive NFL experience and an equally extensive knowledge of an evolving game – with an emphasis on "expertise."
"Nine-oh-four deserves the very best; I feel great about this staff," Meyer said.
The Jaguars on Thursday announced their 2021 coaching staff, a group Meyer spent much of the last month assembling. Meyer, who upon being named head coach on January 14 called the staff his No. 1 priority, left no doubt when discussing the group that he liked the results.
"Obviously time will judge and time will test how we do," Meyer said during a Thursday afternoon videoconference. "I feel great about it."
Meyer, who enters the Jaguars job with 17 years as one of the most successful head coaches in college football history but with no professional football experience, hired an NFL-centric staff – particularly at the coordinator level:
*Darrell Bevell, offensive coordinator: 21 years NFL experience, 14 as a coordinator. Bevell has coordinated offenses with the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions – and was the offensive coordinator when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl following the 2013 season. Meyer said he interviewed as many people for offensive coordinator as he ever has in his career. "His interview was by far the best," Meyer said, emphasizing that Bevell's ability to adapt to Meyer's vision of the offense played a key role in the hire. "The flexibility was very important to me. We do have the first pick in the [2021 NFL] Draft. There is a vision I have about the style of offense. I'm certainly not going to call plays. That's his responsibility. But I have a real clear vision of what I want the offense to look like, and he was great."
*Joe Cullen, defensive coordinator: 14 years NFL experience as one of the league's most-respected defensive line coaches. Cullen spent the last five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, who allowed the fewest yards in the NFL over that span. Meyer said he has known Cullen "a long time" and that he has great respect for the Ravens' defense. "We interviewed quite a few people for that position and he did an excellent job," Meyer said. "He's a guy I've looked to get on my staff several times."
*Brian Schneider, special teams coordinator: 13 years NFL experience, all as a special teams coordinator. He spent 2010-2020 as the Seahawks' special teams coordinator – and was in the position during the Seahawks' '13 title-winning season.
Seventeen of the Jaguars' 22 offensive, defensive and special teams coaches previously have coached in the NFL. The 17 coaches have a combined 202 years NFL experience – 108 on offense, 71 on defense and 23 on special teams.
"It's a mix of really incredible NFL experience along with collegiate experience," Meyer said.
Meyer said he conducted more interviews for this staff than ever before in his career. He previously had been the head coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.
"The qualities I look for? Experts at what they do," Meyer said.
Two of the assistants without previous NFL experience have a combined 14 years experience as head coaches at the college level -- with assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Charlie Strong serving as a head coach for 10 seasons at Texas, South Florida and Louisville and defensive backs coach-safeties Chris Ash serving as a head coach for four seasons at Rutgers.
Strong coached under Meyer at Florida and Ash coached under him at Ohio State, with each coach serving on national-title staffs – Strong in 2006 and 2008 at Florida; Ash in 2014 at Ohio State.
Meyer said Strong was his first hire with the Jaguars, adding that Strong "will be my No. 2." He called Strong "arguably one of the most – if not the most important hire."
"He'll be my right-hand man as he has been many, many times," Meyer said.
The offensive staff: Bevell, Brian Schottenheimer (passing-game coordinator), Tyler Bowen (tight ends), Quinton Ganther (offensive quality control), Will Harriger (offensive assistant), Sanjay Lal (wide receivers), Bernie Parmalee (running backs), George Warhop (offensive line) and Todd Washington (assistant offensive line).
Schottenheimer has served 12 seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator – the last three as offensive coordinator of the Seahawks.
The defensive staff: Cullen, Strong, Joe Danna (defensive backs-nickels), Tony Gilbert (assistant linebackers), Sterling Lucas (assistant defensive line), Tosh Lupoi (defensive line), Zachary Orr (outside linebackers), Patrick Reilly (defensive quality control), Bob Sutton (senior defensive assistant) and Tim Walton (secondary-corners).
The Jaguars also on Thursday announced Fernando Lovo as the chief of staff and Chris Doyle as director of sports performance, naming Anthony Schlegel head strength and conditioning coach and naming as strength coaches Brandon Ireland, Adam Potts and Cedric Scott. Tyler Wolf was named director of team administration and ElizaBeth Mayers was named assistant to the head coach.
"For every spot there were multiple interviews," Meyer said. "I will tell my team: 'My job is to provide you with the best of the best of the best. That's to enhance your value as a player. How do you enhance your value as a player? You become an expert at what you do, you play for a great organization and you win games.'
"You're going to hear that quite often. My No. 1 responsibility is to enhance these players' value – and by the way: Winning games enhances everyone's value."