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Meyer: Staff the No. 1 priority

FILE- In this April 14, 2018, file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer watches during the team's spring NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio. Meyer will be back on the Ohio State sideline Saturday against Tulane after serving a three-game suspension. He was forced to sit out after the university determined he mismanaged the behavior of former assistant Zach Smith. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

JACKSONVILLE – Urban Meyer is putting first things first.

And as the Jaguars' new head coach sees it, the priority in his new position is clear.

"First of all, I have to get a great staff," Meyer said. "Not a good staff, a great staff."

Meyer, hired Thursday as the sixth coach in franchise history, spoke the media via video conference Friday. He covered multiple topics but circled back to the importance of his staff multiple times.

"My primary focus as we speak is to put together a great staff," Meyer said. "I've been very supported by some incredible coaches throughout the years and I expect to do the same here in Jacksonville."

Meyer – who won three national championships in a 17-year college coaching career that included time at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State – was considered perhaps the biggest name in this NFL coaching cycle, and the Jaguars' head-coach position was considered perhaps the league's most-coveted this offseason. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Meyer said he has received much interest from potential assistants.

"I've had a multitude of people calling," Meyer said. "My comment is, 'Save the recommendation unless you feel that person is elite in all areas.' Because that's what Jacksonville deserves and that's what we're going to have on our staff."

Meyer didn't discuss specific possibilities in terms of assistants Friday, though he specified that he did not plan to call plays. He also told one Ohio State reporter he didn't plan to hire multiple people from that school. Ohio State was the last of his four college head-coaching stops, having coached the Buckeyes from 2012-2018.

"I won't do that," Meyer said. "Does that mean there might be one [from Ohio State]? Maybe. I'm not there yet. That's the best infrastructure in college sports. So, no, they will not be leaving. I'm not touching. There might be one, I said, that will leave. I'm not going to do that to that organization."

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan a day after the 2020 season said all assistants were still on staff. Khan said at the time he wanted to allow the next head coach to decide on assistants.

Meyer on Friday was asked if he had thought about retaining any current Jaguars assistants.

"That's what's going on right now," he said. "This is a deep, deep dive into this. I know all coaches say that. The next week will be essential, will be a critical time for the Jacksonville organization."

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported former St. Louis Rams Head Coach and longtime NFL coordinator Scott Linehan – a mentor of Meyer's early in Meyer's career – as a possibility for offensive coordinator. Former ESPN reporter Josina Anderson on Friday reported that former Atlanta Falcons Interim Head Coach and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris was being considered for defensive coordinator.

While Meyer was known for a spread offense in college, he said the offense is adaptable to personnel – citing a change in approach when eventual first-round running back Ezekiel Elliott was the Buckeyes' feature player compared to when eventual first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins was featured.

"It's very adaptable," he said. "If you have a Dwayne Haskins at quarterback you can throw it 50 times a game. We're going to do what's best. If you happen to have Zeke Elliott at tailback then we happened to run the ball more.

"There's not a set system yet and that will certainly be impacted by the coordinators. My vision is when you grab a seat in this beautiful stadium is you're going to see a team play really fast." 

"The work has begun to get this team where it needs to be, and my primary focus as we speak is to put together a great staff," Meyer said. "I've been very supported by some incredible coaches throughout the years and I expect to do the same here in Jacksonville.

"These fans, especially our loyal season-ticket holders, deserve a winner and I can speak on behalf of myself, my staff and eventually our team, they will get our very best." 

As far as his thoughts on the Jaguars' roster, Meyer said he researched multiple NFL rosters this past season – not just the Jaguars – and added that hiring staff will come before full roster evaluation.

"It would be hard for me right now to give you an assessment that'd be fair to the most important people: the players," he said. "That's ongoing. This situation only materialized recently, so I have not had a chance to do that.

"As we speak, I'm trying to discipline my time right now and I'm finding out most of my time is on staff. A bunch of players have reached out. I've had great conversations with some of them already. I look forward to talking to as many as I can.

"But the focus right now is on that staff."


Meyer on Friday addressed reports that the Jaguars' football facilities could be upgraded. "People who work for me, with me, they all hear a statement of 'Is this the best of the best?''' he said. "If it's not, then the question is, 'Well, why?' That's the same thing that I'm doing on every time I walk through everywhere. We did that at Ohio State. We did that at Florida. 'Is this the very best?' And if it's not, especially when you start talking about player welfare and safety and just the players … if it's not the very best, let's have a chat and do what's very best. The Jacksonville players are going to get pushed. In return, we give them the very best. That includes the coaching staff. No. 1, the coaching staff. Does a big hot tub do that much of a difference? I didn't say that. I just want to make sure it's the best of the best, and Shad is very committed to that as well as this organization. That's something that's hard for me to answer right now, but within months you might see or hear things that we're doing the very best that we can for our players."

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