Urban Meyer, the newly named head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been hard at work assembling a coaching staff that will he believes help his team transform from a cellar-dweller to a perennial contender.
"I've got to get a great staff, not a good staff, a great staff," Meyer told the media at his introductory press conference. "And when people are recommended, I've had a multitude of people calling, and my comment is to save the recommendation unless you feel that person is elite in all areas. Because that's what Jacksonville deserves, and that's what we're going to have on our staff."
Over the past few weeks, Meyer has worked tirelessly to build a coaching staff that will align with his vision. He wants a team built around trust and the ability to play fast. Rumors and reports have been rampant, but now the Jaguars' 2021 coaching staff is official, as the team announced earlier today.
Let's take a look!
Offensive Coordinator - Darrell Bevell
Defensive Coordinator - Joe Cullen
Special Teams Coordinator - Brian Schneider
Special Teams Assistant - Carlos Polk
Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach - Brian Schottenheimer
Offensive Quality Control - Quinton Ganther
Offensive Assistant Coach - Will Harriger
Wide Receivers Coach - Sanjay Lal
Tight Ends Coach - Tyler Bowen
Running Backs Coach - Bernie Parmalee
Offensive Line Coach - George Warhop
Assistant Offensive Line Coach - Todd Washington
Defensive Line Coach - Tosh Lupoi
Assistant Defensive Line Coach - Sterling Lucas
Inside Linebackers Coach/Assistant Head Coach - Charlie Strong
Outside Linebackers Coach - Zach Orr
Assistant Linebackers Coach - Tony Gilbert
Defensive Backs Coach - Safety - Chris Ash
Defensive Backs Coach - Nickel - Joe Danna
Cornerbacks Coach - Tim Walton
Defensive Quality Control - Patrick Reilly
Senior Defensive Assistant - Bob Stutton
Director of Sports Performance - Chris Doyle
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach - Anthony Schlegel
Assistant Strength Coach - Brandon Ireland
Assistant Strength Coach - Adam Potts
Assistant Strength Coach - Cedric Scott
The three most critical hires on any staff are the coordinators (offense, defense, and special teams).
Darrell Bevell has been an offensive coordinator in the NFL for 15 seasons and has found plenty of success, given the tools he needs. He's mostly worked with defensive head coaches, who have somewhat limited his ability to call more aggressive offenses. Still, Bevell coached the Seahawks' offense for seven years and made it to two Super Bowls. Seattle routed Denver in their first appearance, but Bevell and Pete Carrol famously elected not to hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch on a 4th and goal that would've earned them a second straight world championship. Bevell helped Russell Wilson transition to the pro game, and with Trevor Lawrence likely on his way to Duval and Meyer having a history with a pro-style spread, Bevell may be in the best spot he's been as an offensive coordinator. During his time in Seattle, the Seahawks ran a version of the west coast offense and finished in the top ten in total offense four times.
On the defensive side of the ball, Joe Cullen is a familiar face in Duval. He coached the Jaguars' defensive line from 2010-2012 and most recently spent five seasons with the Ravens, coaching their DL group. Cullen coaches with a ferocity and is self-described as a "high energy" guy. He's one of the most well-respected defensive minds that hasn't gotten a chance to take full ownership of a defense in the NFL, that is until now. He'll get his shot under Urban Meyer. Cullen has experience with a variety of schemes and defensive fronts, so it's not entirely clear what the Jaguars' defense will look like schematically in 2021, but there are pieces in place to play either 4-3 or 3-4 in base.
The Jaguars' specials teams coordinator, Brian Schneider, coached alongside Darrell Bevell in Seattle for seven seasons and spent the last decade with the Seahawks. His units were known for big plays, scoring, and forcing turnovers. He replaces a legend in Joe DeCamillis but brings a strong resume to the table himself. Urban Meyer has been heavily involved in special teams in the past and will likely have his fingerprints on this unit as well.
The common thread amongst the Jaguars' coordinator hires is NFL experience. The men leading the Jaguars' three units have a combined 49 years of NFL coaching experience. Bevell and Schneider have both served as coordinators for more than a decade, while Cullen will have to prove he has what it takes to lead an entire defensive unit. As a first-year NFL head coach, Meyer is smart to surround himself with three coordinators that possess volumes of knowledge.
Looking at the rest of the Jaguars' coaching staff, there's a healthy mix of former college coaches and guys with NFL experience.
On offense, Brian Schottenheimer, another former Seattle Seahawks' offensive coordinator, will be the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Schottenheimer has been coaching in the NFL since 1997 and was Darrell Bevell's replacement in Seattle. He and Seattle mutually agreed to part ways after the 2020 season, but he helped the Seahawks passing game improve every year he was with Seattle. Schottenheimer was able to modify the Seahawk's offense, adding some vertical principles to the passing game. He'll have a critical role in the development of the Jaguars' new franchise QB.
The Jaguars' news wide receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, also spent 2020 with the Seahawks as a senior offensive assistant. But he's a well-rounded WR coach who has served in that capacity in Oakland, New York (Jets), Buffalo, Indianapolis, and Dallas. He'll bring a new approach to the receiver room, replacing Jaguars' legend Keenan McCardell.
Tyler Bowen had been the tight ends coach at Penn State for three years. Bowen has the Big Ten connection with Urban Meyer and several other staff members. He handled the play-calling duties in Penn State's record-setting Cotton Bowl win over Memphis. The Nittany Lions scored 53 points, a school record for a bowl game.
George Warhop will return as the Jaguars' OL coach. He spent two years on the staff under Doug Marrone and saw a marked improvement from his interior players, but the development of Jawaan Taylor and Cam Robinson in 2020 left a bit to be desired. Warhop is a well-respected and highly experienced coach that had his O-Line playing much better as a unit in 2020. The Jaguars also hired veteran NFL coach Todd Wash...ington to assist Warhop with the offensive line. He was an NFL offensive lineman from 1998-2005. Washington has NFL coaching experience with the Ravens (2011-2016) as an assistant offensive line coach and Jets (2019-2020) as an offensive assistant.
Switching sides of the ball, Joe Cullen's defensive assistants are a mix of guys with college and NFL backgrounds.
Cullen's background is almost exclusively as a defensive line coach, so he'll have his fingerprints all over that unit, but Tosh Lupoi is a rising star in the coaching world. He started his coaching career as a defensive line coach in 2008 at Cal, where he played on the defensive line from 2000-2005. Lupoi then held the same title at Washington from 2012-2013. He joined Nick Saban's staff at Alabama as a defensive analyst in 2014 and swiftly ascended to co-defensive coordinator in 2017 and was the lone defensive coordinator in 2018. He then moved on to the professional ranks, coaching the Brown's defensive line in 2019 before taking on a larger role with the Falcons in 2020 as their run game coordinator and defensive line coach. The Falcons' defense steadily improved throughout the 2020 season.
Employing two linebackers coaches might signal that the Jaguars plan to switch to a 3-4 defensive front. But it's not a done deal, as several 4-3 defenses employ multiple linebackers coaches. Charlie Strong was Urban Meyer's top assistant and defensive coordinator at Florida and since has served as a head coach at Louisville, Texas, and South Florida. He was a defensive analyst at Bama in 2020. He'll also serve as Meyer's assistant head coach in Jacksonville. Zach Orr was a quality pro linebacker for the Ravens but was forced into an early retirement due to a neck injury. Orr immediately joined the Ravens' coaching staff in 2017 and worked as an assistant linebackers coach and defensive analyst.
Secondary coach Chris Ash spent time with Urban Meyer at Ohio State in 2014 and 2015 as the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. He then took on the head coaching gig at Rutgers but failed to land the type of recruits that could keep the team competitive. Most recently, he served as defensive coordinator at Texas in 2020.
Bob Sutton will provide an ultra experienced voice in the defensive room.
Chris Doyle and Anthony Schlegel will be critical. A tenant of an Urban Meyer team is conditioning and speed. Doyle will be in charge of making sure these players are able to perform at the highest level on the field.
Doyle has been accused of racially biased behavior and was removed from his position at Iowa due to the accusations.
As Urban Meyer has often emphasized (during his brief time in Jacksonville), the fulcrum of the Jaguars' entire program is alignment. Meyer has hand-selected these coaches from across the college and NFL landscape because he believes they will fit his culture and get the most out of the players on the Jaguars' roster. The most pressing question with this staff is how Joe Cullen, whose never been an NFL defensive coordinator, will acclimate to calling plays and managing an entire defense. And of course, questions will need to be answered about the addition of Chris Doyle. In the past, Meyer has done a tremendous job finding coaches that will support his vision. It appears he's done that yet again in Jacksonville. The staff has ultra specific roles, which should help each position group get more individualized attention.
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