Urban Meyer took his time assembling his Jacksonville Jaguars staff. For nearly a month, he toiled and talked and conducted countless interviews. As an offensive minded coach, the person he would entrust with the play calling would be the hire he’d end up worrying over the most.
“To tell you the amount of time I spent on that hire and the amount of people we interviewed was as many as I’ve really ever done,” Meyer told local media on Thursday.
As interviews began though, one in particular stood out for both his expertise and fluidity: Darrell Bevell.
“His ability to adapt to my vision of the offense, which is little different maybe than he’s done in the past. The flexibility and not rigidness was very important to me because we do have the first pick in the draft and there is a vision I have about the style of offense.”
Bevell is a longtime NFL offensive coordinator, and most recently interim head coach for the Detroit Lions. He has coached in two Super Bowl’s, winning one with the Seattle Seahawks. Before that, he guided Brett Favre as quarterbacks coach with the Green Bay Packers then offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. As such, Meyer had a long list of quarterbacks he could have called for a recommendation.
Brett Favre, Russell Wilson, Matt Stafford, to name a few.
But it really only took a call to the first guy on his list to hear everything he needed to in order to make a decision for the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I called 10 people about Darrell, and Brett Favre, who I’ve known for quite some time, when he made a comment that’s as good a coach as he’s ever been around and ‘by the way I had my best year with him at Minnesota’ and he said, ‘Hire the guy.’ Brett Favre, the respect I think we all have for him, I listen in closely.”
While Favre did have some seasons with more touchdowns or yardage, his 2009 campaign wasn’t far off his career best; he also posted his best completion percentage (68.4%) and quarterback rating (107.2) with Bevell and Minnesota in 2009. His time in Seattle is defined by Russell Wilson. Seahawks coach Pete Carrol gives Bevell the credit for finding and advocating for the game-changing passer. The two joined together to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
Wilson is a quarterback of short stature who compensated by escaping the pocket more and using his legs. It’s a college style of play that has continued to infiltrate the NFL over the past decade. Now teams in the league are changing their offensive style to fit the quarterbacks coming to them instead of vice versa. As such, Bevell feels prepared for any passer the Jaguars draft No. 1 overall in April…in other words, Trevor Lawrence.
“I think one of the things that really helped me was when we first got Russell Wilson,” recalled Bevell when meeting with local media on Thursday.
“It wasn’t something that I had done in the past, the zone run game and the quarterback zone read game, that kind of thing. It was something that myself and [former Seahawks Offensive Line Coach] Tom Cable, when we were there, we began to kind of dive into that. I think the background that I had there was able to help me in the communication with Coach Meyer.
"Some of the things that we started to do with Russell can carry over from the college game to our game. I’m going to be able to help Coach Meyer in that. Coach Meyer’s going to be able to push me in some other directions as well. I think it’s a great partnership with myself and the staff that we have and Coach Meyer to be able to bring whatever we’re going to do as the Jacksonville Jaguars to life.”
Bevell—who has already met Jags' third-year passer Gardner Minshew—will call plays, Meyer confirmed. The offense though will be a joint effort between Bevell and Passing Game Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, someone who has that same experience with Wilson and building an offense around a passer’s certain strengths. For it was Schottenheimer that replaced Bevell in Seattle after the latter went to the Detroit Lions in 2019.
Now the two—who have 39 years of NFL coaching experience between them—will join forces, combine all they’ve learned and use it to guide the Jaguars into—hopefully—a new offensive era.
“That’s another reason why I’m just super excited about the staff that Coach Meyer’s been able to put together,” admitted Bevell.
“Myself with my background with obviously Brett Favre and [Matthew] Stafford and Russell Wilson and those kinds of guys. I was able to take Russell Wilson as a rookie and then kind of start his career. Then with Brian Schottenheimer and the guys that he’s been around with [former San Diego quarterback] Philip Rivers and those kinds of guys. There’s a lot of experience on this staff in terms of quarterbacks, some of the best quarterbacks that’s played in the game. So, I think we have good knowledge and experience in bringing a young quarterback to play.”
For all the (understandable) focus on quarterback, it’s the running game that can make or break an offense. And for the Jaguars, they have one of the best backs in the league from 2020 returning. James Robinson took the NFL by storm as an undrafted free agent who earned a starting role and became a Rookie of the Year finalist by season’s end. He accumulated 1,414 yards and 10 touchdowns. He can also be the secret weapon for the Jaguars offense to transcend in 2021.
“The running back position is huge. It does a lot of things. In my mind, it sets up a lot that you can do in the play action game, in the movement game,” explained Bevell.
“James [Robinson] had an outstanding year. I was able to meet him for the first time [Thursday]. He was in the weight room, so I got to say hi to him just for second. [He] had a really nice year for himself, obviously an undrafted rookie coming out and played really well. I like his skill set.
“I like the way he cut the ball. He’s got really good vision. He’s got great contact balance. He can make guys miss at the second level. He can make guys miss and get what we need to. Obviously, he’ll continue to work on speed and those kinds of things, but [I] really like what he’s done and [I] look forward to working with him.”
While it will still be a few months before the Jaguars can test out their new offense on the field, Meyer believes the time he took to put the offensive and passing game coordinator’s in place is already paying off; he sees it everyday, simply by sitting back and listening to his new coaches.
“After a week of having them together and being involved in those meetings, if I had to say what’s my favorite thing to do right now, it would be to go sit in those offensive meetings and hear our offensive staff have conversations.”