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Transcript - Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer: March 9, 2021

(On the process of NFL free agency and if he defers to General Manager Trent Baalke) "The one thing that I've been able to do over the last 15 years is have a front seat view of the way professional organizations go about their business with GMs, coaches. We've had some really, really good players over the years and so [I've seen] all 32 teams. I was talking to someone early in the process of becoming a coach here and just the way people do your business, you have great respect for the ones who dive deep. It's not recruiting, and I understand the difference, but free agency to me is a labor-intensive proposition. That means that the hardest working, the deepest digging staffs, a lot like recruiting, they get the best players. So, to answer your question, I will defer quite a bit to [Jaguars General Manager] Trent [Baalke]. He's hired an excellent staff, but our coaches have done a deep dive into every one of these [players]. Ultimately, you're going to hear the term 'power of the unit.' I've used that at Florida and also Ohio State. Ultimately, the tight end coach is responsible for who walks in that [meeting] room and he's going to utilize every resource and that's called scouts, that's called scouting directors, that's called a general manager, that' called a head coach and coordinator and they're going to do a deep dive. It's also called zoom calls and finding out as much as he can about that person walking in his unit room. So, that's the way we go about our business. Ultimately, each position coach is going to have a heavy hand in who comes in there, yet Trent and his staff obviously are the number one resource we use."

(On ranking free agents and the consideration of their price tag) "We did an end of season report and that was every coach, along with myself, did a deep [dive] into our current roster. Then from our current roster, we did about a three-week evaluation of what's available. The coordinator, along with his staff, put together the top ten needs in order to be a functioning offense in the NFL. Then, Trent [Baalke], myself, and his staff are now putting it together and that's where the term that Trent likes to use – the value. I don't think we're in position just because we have a lot of holes, we [were] 1-15 [in 2020]. There's some quality players here, but there's also a lot of holes, so that's where we're going to rely on Trent's experience, and his other guys on his staff, on how much it costs. To answer your question, there will be some guys we don't feel like it's the right thing to go on because it would just eliminate other opportunities for other players."

(On using the franchise tag on OL Cam Robinson) "We are heading in that direction. [Offensive Line Coach] Coach Warhop feels very strong about his future and the development. We realize he has a great future. His ceiling is very high. I've studied him very much. I've spent some time with him. We feel that the way this free agency is moving is that the left tackle position, as always but even more now this year from hearing from the guys who have been in the NFL, this a tough year for that left tackle position. We feel like with what's just out there and with coaching, culture, and development, Cam [Robinson] has a lot of talent."

(On the strengths and weaknesses of his roster) "You always start at the quarterback position. Obviously, Gardner [Minshew II] was a guy that had some success early here. I've spent a little bit of time with him, not a lot of time with him. But you always start at the quarterback position and we have the number one pick. There's a lot of speculation out there that [a quarterback] will be the first pick so number one is just making sure we have the quarterback room exactly the way we want it. From there, you look at a defense that really struggled in a lot of areas and I always believe you build your team around the defensive line and you move backwards, so that's what we're going to do. Our defensive line, we feel good about it, a few of our players are pretty good. I just don't want to go into names right now. I don't think that's fair to the players. But the defensive line will be solidified first and then we move to the back of the defense and our defensive secondary needs to be revamped in a few spots. Offensively, I think we have some really good receivers. We're not done with that room, however. If you've covered our teams over the years, the need for speed, the big play opportunity was not the Jaguars last year and we're searching for the big play hit at the receiver position. Running back, James [Robinson], we feel pretty good about him. He had a good year, so we want to build a room with him being an integral part of it. The tight end room, that's a room that's going to have to be rebuilt in some ways. Offensive line, especially the interior line, I feel really good about them, [OL Andrew] Norwell, [OL Brandon] Linder, and [OL] A.J. [Cann]. Those guys are good and our right tackle, I feel like his future's ahead of him too. So, the offensive line, they should be better than a year [ago]. The expectation is that the offensive line will be much better next year."

(On his assessment of the offensive line) "We have not finalized that. I made a comment a couple weeks ago that I think the offensive line [is solid], when you watch the Jaguars play, especially the interior line, the two tackles are going to get better. They're young players. That's an area that has got to play better than it did a year ago, but I think we all know they can in another year together. So, the offensive line, we expect them to play better, but we think there are some pretty good pieces in place."

(On his relationship with OL Andrew Norwell) "He's one of my favorite players I've ever coached. He's a guy that was the underdog when we got there at Ohio State. The offensive line at Ohio State was one of the worst in the Big 10, it became the best in the Big 10. He was a big part of it. I was not surprised to see him get a high free agency contract because he's a grinder, he's a worker, he's a team guy, he's a locker room guy. I see him being part of the Jaguars and I want him to be part of the Jaguars. For me personally, I love the guy because I know him better than most."

(On his evaluation of the secondary and CB CJ Henderson) "I spent some time with CJ [Henderson]. My gosh, is he talented. I know Dan Mullen very well who's coached him in college. He's an integral part of this. Obviously, you spend a high draft pick on him and [he's] a wonderful young man that dealt with some injury situations and missed some games near the end of the season. He did have labrum surgery by the way, and everything came out fine. He's actually in here rehabbing today, so we're counting on him. The other spots, we're still evaluating what you have and what's available and that's a big part of where we're at right now."

(On the possibility of new facilities) "I think that if you look at our history, I just have a very firm belief about believing that there's greatness in everyone and pushing people until you find that greatness, but also giving them everything possible. When I look at Jacksonville, a big reason why I took this job is I love the city of Jacksonville. I love the state of Florida, the fact that there's the tax [benefits], which when you're in college, there's recruiting, I never talked about tax issues with recruits. But that's reality when you start talking about professional football. It's a place you can live very comfortably 12 months a year and raise a family here. I refuse to believe that this cannot become a destination spot for free agents or for a great player and we need to make sure that everything's in place to have that player want to be here. I'm not just talking about from August to December, January. Maybe it's a dream, but that's a dream I'm going to hold onto that I just someday see our players living here, training, get the best training possible, and enjoying a life in Jacksonville, Florida."

(On plan to use the salary cap space) "I'm going to rely on Trent [Baalke]. Obviously [Jaguars Owner] Shad [Khan] is going to be very involved in that. So, my job is to try to put the best team together and then learn. That's something that to act like I'm an expert in that, I'm certainly not. I know talent, I know teams, I know chemistry. I'm going to really rely on people that have lived in that world. To answer your question, I don't know that."

(On evaluating chemistry in potential roster additions) "We've had many meetings and it's just called creative ways of gathering information. I've had great recruiters that I never asked them. I'd say, 'Tell me about so and so' [and they'd say,] 'I've talked to his uncle, I've talked to the assistant strength coach, I've talked to equipment people, I've talked to his girlfriend. I've done a deep dive.' I've had other assistant coaches that [say] they won't call me back. Those are usually very poor recruiters and I see free agency the same way that these coaches are once again ultimately responsible for who walks in that room and that means be creative. Unfortunately, you can't fly the guys in like the old days and I can't wait for that to come back. So, you're talking about organizational decisions made by people there's chances we have not spent much time with them, and to be honest with you, I don't feel great about that. I feel great about the coaches that have done their work behind the scenes digging up or else have had previous experience with them coaching them in the room. We're probably going to lean on [them] more in that scenario, so I've hired a bunch of guys from the NFL that have NFL experience. If they've had [experience with] them, I feel much better about someone we just don't know."

(On the similarities in talent evaluation at the college and professional level) "Well this is my first month doing it and I find it to be very similar. When I hear people say that recruiting you just pick five stars and go, that's not true at all. From Mike Thomas to Sam Hubbard to Jeff Demps, the players that maybe weren't the high name guys, that's great evaluation. I told the story to our staff many times about Eric Weddle when I was at Utah. The best evaluator maybe I've ever been around is [Utah Head Coach] Kyle Whittingham because he had a certain way of going in and evaluating talent and he rarely missed. So, watching the video is a big part of it, but doing a deep dive [is too]. We always talk about what's a floor and what's a ceiling. Obviously, we're looking for players of high ceilings coming out of college."

(On having the staff aligned with what they are looking for in players) "There are two guys we hired [that will help], you know them both. Ryan Stamper is the director of assessment, and I don't know if that position exists in the NFL. Once again I've been working on this for a long time. I just kept thinking about who do I trust, who do I know, who do I know [who knows] players, and who knows me and what I would expect to have in that locker room, and there's none better than Ryan Stamper. So, Ryan Stamper will be the person that on draft day, he's going to have a voice in that draft room. As far as the assessment, we call it the mindset. What is the mindset of the player and does it fit the mindset that we're looking for to be a Jaguar? That's the competitive spirit, toughness, intelligence, leadership and adaptability. Do they have those qualities and that's Ryan's responsibility to work with our assistant coaches and scouts to find that out. So, I think it's very similar and this is one month on the job. The great recruiters, I imagine, acquire great people in free agency."

(On if OL Cam Robinson will play on the franchise tag) "I've spoken to him several times. I have not had that direct conversation with him. I'd imagine that would take place at some point today."

(On if OL Cam Robinson will get a new contract in the offseason) "I think so, sure. Our intent is to have Cam Robinson play for the Jaguars for a while."

(On hiring a replacement for the director of sports performance position) "We're pretty close to finalizing our evaluation. Anthony Schlegel and we hired three new coaches in the strength room. Brandon Ireland, Adam Potts and Ced[ric Scott] are working directly [with him] and they've done a great job. We hired a new trainer in Jeff Ferguson. He's been outstanding. We're still in the evaluation phase, but I feel pretty good about where we're at. I think you know the importance we put on the sports performance team and it will be the best. They're as good as anyone in the NFL and I feel great with where we're at right now. Our nutritionist has been great. We kept the same nutrition staff. Our equipment staff is great. Sports psychology, trainers and everybody, that all falls under the umbrella of sports performance. The analytics piece has been fantastic so far."

(On what changed between the hiring and resignation of Chris Doyle) "I saw the impact of the decision and the distraction it caused. The most important part of an organization is and always will be our players and we both felt, and, when I say both, I mean Trent [Baalke] and myself, and then Chris Doyle felt it was best that this team didn't need [this]. Everything's going too well. We hired an excellent staff. We don't need a distraction, and moving forward is in the best interest of all."

(On the possibility of a new facility) "We call it the culture of excellence and we expect everything to be the best of the best and right now it's not here at Jacksonville. There's a lot of great things that are, there are certain areas that are not. My job, and I push really hard especially when you talk about health and safety of players, I expect it to be the very best. So, we're pushing hard, and our owner, Shad, has been fantastic to listen and to learn about what we expect. He expects the best of the best, so we're right in the middle of that conversation."

(On the work they have to do on the defensive line) "We have a lot of work to do, but there's some great pieces. Josh Allen, my gosh. His first year was a little better than last year, but as far as a person, I met his family. My gosh. I want that guy around here as long as we can have him. DaVon Hamilton is another guy, I coached him at Ohio State. Our coaches, [Defensive Line Coach] Tosh Lupoi and [Defensive Coordinator] Joe [Cullen] feel he has a very strong future. Those are just two names that I know very well. The other guys, I don't know that well yet. I'm getting to know them, but there's one commonality of great teams: they have great defensive lines. You can't avoid that. There's ways to hide other things, but you cannot hide that. You have to have a strong defensive line, and we're committed to do that here."

(On what he learned from Trevor Lawrence's Pro Day) "It couldn't have gone better. I think I made the comment we had high expectations going into it, like really high. I've seen him throw before. I really wanted [Offensive Coordinator] Darrell Bevell and [Passing Game Coordinator] Brian Schottenheimer to witness it. Watching a guy throw, especially throw, on video tape, it's not the same. I made the comment you want to hear it leave his hand, listen to it go by you, and to me, I don't know how you evaluate a quarterback without doing that. So, I thought he did great. We've had a couple Zoom calls with him and he's been great, and we like where we're at with him."

(On if they are allowed to give out playbooks to prospects before the draft) "We're doing that with several positions and more than one quarterback. You are allowed to do that. In the old days, you did that. I sat in them when I was coach in college. You sit in those meetings and you learn a lot. You learn a lot about the team that's doing the evaluation, how thorough they are, and then obviously you learn a lot about the player. So yes, we have done that, and you are allowed to do that and not just the quarterback position, but we're going to do that with other positions. That's essential to find out, first of all, what's your starting point of the football acumen and then how are they at learning, and there's only one way."