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Senior Bowl 2021: Meyer "an elite communicator…"


MOBILE, Ala. – Urban Meyer isn't the only NFL story these days, but make no mistake:

Even though the Jaguars' head coach and his staff aren't attending the Reese's Senior Bowl this week, Meyer is still a story here. A big, fascinating story.

"It's really interesting," longtime NFL reporter Albert Breer said Tuesday while attending Senior Bowl practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama. "I think what Urban brings above anything else is the ability to lead a program and to build a program."

Breer, formerly of NFL Network and now a senior reporter for Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback, has covered Meyer closely in recent months – documenting and discussing the three-time college national championship head coach's decision to coach in the NFL.

We'll have more from the Senior Bowl throughout the week, but for this story we'll focus on Breer's thoughts on Meyer – who won three national championships in a 17-year collegiate NFL head coaching career and who never has coached in the NFL.

"If he succeeds, I think it will be because he's one of the best communicators I've ever seen – an elite communicator," Breer said of Meyer. "He knows how to get the most out of people – not just the most out of a receiver running a nine route, but the most out people on Wednesday and the most out of his strength coach in April.

"He above anything else knows how to get the most out of people on a consistent basis."

Breer said he expects Meyer to bring a "holistic approach to the Jaguars, with an emphasis on nutrition, strength and player development and an emphasis on program-building."

"All these things are part of the deal when you bring in Urban Meyer," Breer said.

Meyer won national championships following the 2006 and 2008 seasons while at the University of Florida, then won a national title at Ohio State following the 2014 season. He left Ohio State after the 2018 season, spending 2019 and 2020 working for Fox Sports.

He also spent that time preparing for an NFL opportunity if the right one arose, and Breer said Meyer leaned heavily on former Ohio State players in learning the differences between the college and professional games.

"He acknowledges that there are some things he's going to have to change to fit the NFL game," Breer said. "He really believes that every team has good players. For him, there's a belief that an NFL player inherently is a good player. It's what you do with that player that really counts."

Meyer has spent much of the last 10 days hiring a coaching staff. While that staff has yet to be officially announced, reports are the longtime NFL defensive line coach Joe Cullen – a defensive line coach with the Jaguars from 2010-2012 considered one of the NFL's best pass-rush coaches – will be the defensive coordinator and that longtime offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will hold that position with the Jaguars. It also reportedly will be a staff with a mix of college and professional coaches, with former Meyer assistants such as Charlie Strong part of the staff.

Meyer upon his hiring called hiring an elite staff his top priority.

"That part of it is so interesting," Breer said. "There's going to be a focus on player development. There's going to be a focus on what coaches can do. One thing you're going to see is that coaching staff is going to take accountability for it and they're not going to be pointing fingers at players.

"It's going to be, 'If you can't develop them, we're going to find somebody else who can do it.'''

Breer also discussed what many believe is an overlooked part of Meyer's personality as a coach – i.e., his ability to adapt and adjust when needed. While Meyer won national titles with a spread offense he helped popularize at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, he had success late in his tenure at Ohio State with a drop-back offense featuring quarterback Dwayne Haskins – a far different player than previous mobile Meyer quarterbacks such as Tim Tebow, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett.

"He's not married to doing things a certain way," Breer said. "Suddenly, he has Haskins and hires [then-offensive coordinator and current Ohio State Head Coach] Ryan Day. Now, all of a sudden what are they doing? They're doing something totally different. There's no question over time, he has become way more of a culture coach than a scheme coach. If there are some things with him that are non-negotiable, I don't think scheme's one of them.

"There's going to be a focus not only on drafting the right guys and signing the right guys, but it's also going to be turning the players who are in the building into Urban's type of guys."

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