JACKSONVILLE – He smiled. He spoke about victory. This was Urban Meyer Monday.
As the Jaguars' head coach discussed his first NFL victory – the team's first victory since Week 1 of last season – he reiterated a theme he has discussed often in recent weeks and months.
The moment wasn't about him.
"At my age, I'm just so excited for the guys," Meyer said a day after the Jaguars' 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England, Sunday. "I know how hard they worked. I've been talking about this locker room, and I've been talking about the team. I know it's one game. I know, I know, I know …
“I just know I love these players and it was great to see their faces after the game.”
Kicker Matthew Wright's 54-yard field goal with 3:40 remaining tied the game, and his 53-yarder as time expired ended a 20-game losing streak – the third-longest in NFL history and the longest since Tampa Bay lost 26 consecutive games in 1976-1977.
Meyer said Wright will be the kicker moving forward, having competed with veteran Josh Lambo for the position in practice the last two weeks. Wright made three of three extra points in Week 4 against Cincinnati, missed a 53-yard field goal and an extra point in a Week 5 loss to Tennessee then went three of three (54, 53 and 40 yards) on field goals and two of two on extra points Sunday.
"Obviously, Matt's earned the right to be the starting kicker," Meyer said.
The Jaguars won Sunday despite the absence of starting center Brandon Linder, starting guard A.J. Cann, starting wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and starting linebacker Myles Jack. Ben Bartch, starting for Cann, sustained a second-quarter concussion and was replaced by fourth-year veteran Will Richardson Jr.
"It was celebration of overcoming [some tough circumstances]," Meyer said. "A lot of guys, a lot of people invested a lot into this organization – and it was great to see that. I just kind of stared at them. I just really enjoyed watching them."
Meyer, who coached the University of Florida to national championships following the 2006 and 2008 seasons and Ohio State to one following the 2014 season, was asked if the victory was as emotional as any he had experienced other than national championships.
"It was – maybe even including some of those games," he said.
- Meyer said Bartch should be ready to play following the team's bye week, adding that cornerback Tyson Campbell (toe) and Jack (back) also be ready to play against Seattle October 31. He said Cann, Chark and Linder will remain out. Defensive tackle Jay Tufele, who injured his hand in pregame warmup Sunday, could either have a cast or undergo surgery.
- Meyer discussed the "slider-kill" play that set up Wright's game-winning field goal. Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw nine yards on fourth-and-8 to wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., a play that began with :05 remaining and ended with the Jaguars calling timeout with :01 remaining. "We started that all the way back in OTAs (organized team activities)," Meyer said. "We worked more than I ever have [on the play]. We do it once a week in training camp, twice a week during the week [since]. That's usually one of the things we work on."...
- Meyer discussed the Jaguars' pass defense, which allowed Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa 329 yards and two touchdowns passing. Tagovailoa had seven completions of more than 20 yards, including four to tight end Mike Gesicki. "We're still giving up too many big plays," Meyer said. "We're playing more zone than we had planned – just with injuries. … We're not exactly where we need to be. We're playing more zone. We started the season we were going to be 'man this, man this, man this.' For the right reasons, we were getting picked and rubbed. A lot of things were happening. We had to really work on being a combination of both. That's what you see in the NFL." … Meyer lauded the play of Richardson, calling him one of the team's most-improved players. Meyer also said Lawrence played his best game yet Sunday. … Meyer discussed going for first downs on fourth-and-short situations. The Jaguars have been stopped short three times this season on fourth-and-1, including once on Sunday at the Dolphins 9 early in the fourth quarter. "I've always done that," Meyer said. 'It's something that's on the agenda – short yardage. That's three misses we've had. Three fourth-and-ones – two on the goal line and one yesterday. I have to self-check myself. Is that the right thing to do? You're talking about that far to go win a game. I have to evaluate if that's the right call. Second, what are the actual play calls? You've got to be smart." …