JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
The Other Michael from Middleburg, FL
Your answers in the O-Zone the past couple of days are giving me the impression you believe Meyer may not be as high on Lawrence as nearly everyone else. Please tell me that's not the case. Please tell me we aren't going to reach for Ryan Leaf when Peyton Manning is available. April 29th feels like a looooong way away.
I can't tell you what the Jaguars will do April 29. I do expect them to select Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft – but that's because conventional wisdom says that's what they will do. And I have no reason to believe Meyer isn't as high on Lawrence as everyone else. But part of the objective here in the O-Zone is to give clear answers about what's really happening around the Jaguars as opposed to repeating conventional wisdom – and until Meyer says something specifically about Lawrence to indicate what he's thinking it would be disingenuous to say that I or anyone else knows what he's thinking. When asked about quarterbacks in his first media availability this past Friday, he mentioned Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson. He also said he believed there was elite talent at the position in the draft. This made news because he was noncommittal, but it would have been surprising had he answered any other way. This was his first press conference as the Jaguars' head coach. The Jaguars had yet to hire a general manager at the time. Meyer had yet to hire an offensive coordinator. For that matter, he had barely had time to shake hands (virtually, of course) with a lot of people at TIAA Bank Field. I can't ease anyone's mind yet who's worried about the Jaguars not taking Lawrence No. 1 overall if for no other reason than those conversations have yet to take place. I can tell you that if Lawrence indeed is as good as everyone believes – and if he has the characteristics Meyer seeks in a quarterback – the Jaguars will take him. Remember: More than three months remain before April 29. There's plenty of time to get this right. Why shouldn't the Jaguars take that time and do just that?
Rob from Middleburg
So much for cleaning house. Keeping the same front office that failed for eight years. Why rehash the same people? We need fresh air. If I didn't know any better, I would think that Jaguars Owner Khan is part of the old boys network. Will the NFL look into the Jags not following the Rooney rule? There were reports that Meyer was going to be the coach before Head Coach Doug Marrone was fired. Now we hire the GM who was already in the building. Clown show.
I suppose you're referencing the Jaguars reportedly hiring Trent Baalke as general manager. If so, that's hardly "keeping the same front office that failed for eight years." Baalke joined the Jaguars in 2020, not 2013. And there's no reason the NFL will look into the Jaguars regarding the Rooney Rule. They interviewed Raheem Morris, Robert Saleh and Eric Bienemy for the head-coaching position. They reportedly interviewed Rick Smith, Jerry Reese, Ray Farmer, Terry Fontenot and Louis Riddick for general manager. That's following the Rooney Rule – to the letter, actually.
Liam from Cartagena
Senor: Will coach have a quarterback coach to tutor Trevor Lawrence about the differences in the pro and college game?
There's no reason to think the Jaguars won't have a quarterback coach next season.
Paul from Jacksonville
This is an exciting and sad time in the NFL with several of the great quarterbacks retiring. This opens the door for change in the NFL. I'm excited for new and fresh quarterback styles and systems. But I will miss these great players. What was Rivers' and Brees' records against us? I hated when we played them because, if memory serves me correctly, they normally tore us up!
Philip Rivers went 8-3 against the Jaguars – 7-2 with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers and 1-1 this past season with the Indianapolis Colts. Drew Brees was 4-1 against the Jaguars – 1-1 with San Diego and 3-0 with New Orleans. So, yeah … Brees and Rivers had success against the Jaguars. A lot of quarterbacks did through the last decade and a half or so.
David from Broward County FL
O-Man, can we have any hope next year for tight end Josh Oliver or should he be considered a loss unless he proves otherwise?
Oliver, a third-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2019 NFL Draft, has missed all but four games in two seasons. He has talent. It seems likely he will be on the roster in the offseason and entering training camp. It wouldn't be surprising if he contributes in a big way moving forward. I don't expect the Jaguars' new decision-makers to depend on that happening.
Kieran from Plymouth, England
O, this is my first time emailing, I'm very intrigued about free agency. Do you think the Jags will splurge heavily in free agency this offseason? Regardless, which positions do you think they will make major signings? And do you have any thoughts on any specific players they could/should sign for immediate improvement? Keep up the good work. I for one read your articles most days and I like your balance of optimism and realism. Go jags!
It's likely the Jaguars will spend big in spots in free agency. It's tricky to know the exact spots, but I expect multiple positions to be addressed either via free agency or the draft … defensive tackle, tight end, cornerback and safety foremost among them.
Shane from Jacksonville
Urban Meyer is a home run. Trevor Lawrence will be a home run. Trent Baalke? This hire feels like a base on balls, at best, when there were really good pitches to hit. The draft picks during his time as San Francisco general manager were pretty terrible and he couldn't get along with a powerful, head strong coach. Now that I think about it, I'm afraid this is going to be a strikeout. There were definitely more accomplished candidates available.
I wouldn't worry about Baalke not getting along with Meyer; it would be a bit naïve to believe Meyer didn't have a lot to do with Baalke's hiring – and if that's the case, the duo presumably has confidence they can work together. As far as Baalke's draft record in San Francisco, he had some hits and misses; you'll find that that's true of any NFL general manager. If Baalke and Meyer get quarterback right, it becomes a lot easier to get everything else right.
Stephen from 113 and Jacksonville
John, what are the offseason contact rules for our new coaching staff? Can they hold phone/zoom conversations with existing roster members? I would imagine that Urban and the new quarterback coach (whomever that is) might want to talk with quarterbacks Gardner Minshew II, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton rather than just looking at video. Can the roster players use the facilities for offseason training (or accidental meetings)? Also, how about access to the guys in the draft? Can the staff start doing virtual "combine-like" interviews with draft eligible players? Thanks.
The new coaches can communicate with players, but the communication is pretty much limited to greetings and introductions until the official offseason program begins in April. This is not a particularly popular rule among coaches, particularly new ones. And I would imagine Meyer will be eagerly anticipating April and the time he can start building trust with a new roster. But while roster players can – and typically do – use the facilities for offseason training, the "accidental meetings" to which you refer typically don't occur. At least not to any extent that they involve meetings about game-planning, scheme or playbook. People sometimes scoff when they hear this, but such circumvention of the rules almost certainly would be discovered by the NFL or NFL Players Association. As far as access to draft-eligible players, those opportunities typically take place during All-Star games, combines, Pro Days and pre-draft visits at team facilities. COVID-19 is changing a lot of the offseason calendar. So, stay tuned.
Jason Da' Hass
Hi John, Did Urban just hire a "yes'" man as GM?
Mike from Boscobel, WI
I was hoping we would hire Terry Fontenot as our next GM. Once I heard Shad has given Coach Meyer final decision on all football matters, I knew we wouldn't get him. Why put any potential GM hire under such a ridiculous constraint?
Because Khan wanted to hire Meyer.
Unhipcat from Carlsbad, CA
Hi John. I was glad to see Doug take the coaching position at Alabama. Those are some fortunate linemen.
Marrone indeed reportedly will coach offensive linemen at Alabama beginning next season. This seems like a good fit. I could see Marrone being a college head coach again someday and I could see him being successful at it.