JACKSONVILLE – Speed is key for Urban Meyer.
But when the Jaguars' head coach talks about speed, he's not necessarily talking about how fast a player runs. It's how fast a player plays – and there's a difference.
"My vision, my dream, is always to be the fastest team on the field," Meyer said.
Meyer discussed this concept while meeting with the media last week after being named the sixth head coach in Jaguars history. He undoubtedly will discuss it more in the coming weeks and months, because it's key to his coaching philosophy.
"The only demand that I will have is you give everything you've got," he said.
Meyer, who won three national championships at Florida and Ohio State, is considered a program-building coach. When he speaks, he often emphasizes the importance of culture. One key element of his culture – and a key element of his teams – is that of fearlessness.
Meyer speaks often of "four to six, A to B," which he explained Friday means "four-to-six seconds."
"That's the length of a play," he said, adding: "The reason you play fast, the four to six, is I want a team that plays fearless. It falls on the coaching staff. One way to take a great player and slow him down is be too complicated, and I can assure you that will not happen. If it will, I'll step in.
"If you make a mistake, we have to coach you through that. And that's on the coaching staff. Point A to point B is there's a starting point A and a finish point B, and that's easy to evaluate on film. Between A to B, it better be everything you've got and that's going to be the expectation of our organization."
Meyer during Friday's availability dug deep into his college career for a story about the importance of speed – and what he means when he discusses playing fast.
"When I say fastest, not necessarily 40-time fast, but fast," he said. "One of the great compliments I can remember we ever had was the legendary coach John Robinson. He's coaching at UNLV and I'm coaching at Utah (in 2003 or 2004), and we walk out to the 50-yard line and he looks at me and says, 'That's the fastest team I've ever coached against.' And I'm thinking we only had maybe one guy that runs sub-4.5, but then you watch the film and they played fast."
One oft-discussed topic among observers and fans when discussing the Meyer hire is whether he can adjust to the NFL after a career spent coaching in college. Meyer said he understands the need to adapt to a new situation – and a new level of football. "The days of coaching the way you did back when I was at Bowling Green or when I was an assistant coach … I mean, the whole country has changed," Meyer said. "Everything has changed, so you have to adapt. Those who adapt have success and those who don't, fail. I can't wait, that's the part of the game that I love is to be able to adapt to the NFL player." Meyer said he has had extensive discussions about the NFL in recent months with former players who have gone on to play professionally. "We've had no shortage of them the last 12 years or whatever it's been," he said. "You're talking about grown men. You're talking about this is a business, you have a job to do. I've always looked at the college environment as an opportunity, not that we're not going to do it in the NFL, but you're dealing with 17, 18, 19-year-olds that are leaving home for the first time. You're also dealing with an academic environment, so just a bunch of different environments. However, between the white lines, I don't see a lot of difference. I've studied the NFL game now for, really, years, but I've really studied it for the first time in my life the last six months."
Meyer said he also understands a key difference between college football and the NFL is the level of competitiveness. Meyer had a winning percentage of .854 in 17 seasons at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State; New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, the winningest active NFL head coach, has a winning percentage of .678. "You're in a league that is designed to be .500," Meyer said. "You're talking about Coach Belichick, one of my great friends and a person I've always admired. He's the best of all time. You're talking about a 60-something percent winning percentage. You're talking about this league is built to be .500. .. That's the biggest challenge is looking across the field and saying, 'they got what you got.' Or sometimes, 'they got more than you got.' "
Meyer on his family's reaction to him becoming the Jaguars' head coach: "We've had deep conversations and they're all in. They all got their Jaguar T-shirts in. They're all grown now, so that's the biggest difference. To me, that's a huge difference that you're not missing as much. The difference is I have two grandkids that I plan to shuttle back and forth as much as I can because that's very important to me, but for the better part of my marriage is that's essential. They're all in. They're all Duval now."