JACKSONVILLE – Roy Robertson-Harris likes his new situation.
Defensive coordinator. Personnel. Scheme. Robertson-Harris likes them all, which leads the veteran defensive end to an encouraging thought.
"I think we're going to be very good this year," Robertson-Harris said recently at Jaguars 2021 Organized Team Activities presented by Baptist Health at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.
Head Coach Urban Meyer also spoke highly of a unit that has addressed positions at all levels this offseason – first in free agency, then the 2021 NFL Draft.
"I feel really good about our personnel on defense," Meyer said last week. "Scheme, they're still learning it. We're in shorts and just feeling it out. In Phase 3 [of the offseason program], we're not supposed to do a lot against each other, there's no winner or loser.
"So, it's hard to give you a true evaluation, but I like where we're at."
Robertson-Harris, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears, was just one offseason move on the defensive line. The Jaguars traded with the New Orleans Saints for nose tackle Malcom Brown, also signing end Jihad Ward as an unrestricted free agent from the Baltimore Ravens and selecting Southern California nose tackle Jay Tufele in Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars signed veteran linebacker Damien Wilson as an unrestricted free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs for what Meyer called "maturity and experience."
They also signed cornerback Shaquill Griffin as an unrestricted free agent from the Seattle Seahawks, signing safety Rayshawn Jenkins as an unrestricted free agent from the Los Angeles Chargers and selecting Syracuse safety Andre Cisco in Round 3.
"I see a rebuilt secondary … so I'm anticipating our secondary to be one of the strengths of our team," Meyer said. "We worked in free agency to help it, we worked in the draft to help it and I feel we have some good core players there. So, that's where we start."
Meyer throughout the offseason also has emphasized the importance of returning players such as linebacker Myles Jack, cornerback CJ Henderson and defensive end Josh Allen.
"We have guys on the edge that can rush," Robertson-Harris said. "We have guys in the middle that can stop the run. We have DBs that can cover them. We have linebackers that are fast, that can move good. We have a great all-around defense. As long as we communicate and we're giving that effort, I think we're going to be in a great spot."
Among the Jaguars veterans Meyer has praised in recent days: Jack, who played at or near a Pro Bowl level last season in his first season as a weak-side linebacker. "He's an alpha leader," Meyer said. "He's a stud." Meyer said while Jack entered the offseason slightly overweight, he lost the weight immediately and has been "A+ in the weight room and in the training. Does he have to play better?' Yeah, a lot of the core players have to. But we've addressed it and he's done everything we've asked and above and beyond since we stepped foot in Jacksonville."
Jaguars running back James Robinson is getting some help next season – and he doesn't mind that. "I think it'll mesh very well," said Robinson, who rushed for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie last season after signing as a collegiate free agent shortly after the 2020 NFL Draft. Robinson was referring to the Jaguars' additions at running back this offseason – veteran free agent Carlos Hyde, a 1,000-yard rusher for the Houston Texans in 2019, and first-round running back Travis Etienne Jr. "We've all just been trying to learn the offense right now, but as we get into training camp, we'll see," Robinson said. "I'm sure it will work out well. When they brought those guys in, I knew of them. It's really just I have to go out there and control what I can control and once I get my opportunity, just make the most of it."
Robertson-Harris on Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence: "Trevor's going to be great. Obviously, I can't touch him or get near him – I'll be on the Greyhound bus back to Texas – so I try to stay away from him during practice. I see a guy that wants to win games. He's dedicated, he's bought in to the team philosophy. He wants to win and that's what we're here to do."
Robertson-Harris on the Jaguars' sports performance department under Meyer: "They're trying to make sure everything is here for us, trying to make sure that we don't have to go all over the world to get everything done, which is a good thing. Having to travel 30 minutes up the road to get a massage or to get needling and all that stuff … he's trying to keep everything in-house. It's been great. I've been able to get everything I need done here at the building, so I don't have to travel, saves me time, saves me gas."
Meyer: "The most valuable commodity of any organization of the players and how you invest back in the players. For the last 30 years, I've always believed in that. I work people hard, bring out the greatness in them, but also treat them like gold, treat them right. They've earned that right as an NFL player. … You've earned that right to get the very best treatment, the very best training that's possible. And if you don't get that, that's not fair."
Robertson-Harris on second-year DE K'Lavon Chaisson: "K loves to work. K's going to continue to grow as a player. He's really fast off the edge. He can work a lot of different moves. I think he's going to continue to grow as a player and play a long time in this league."