The Jacksonville Jaguars have endless resources to retool their roster this offseason, but first they have to rebuild their coaching staff.
New head coach Urban Meyer has already made it clear that hiring the best of the best for his staff is his first priority. Considering Meyer is making his first trip into the NFL this year, it makes sense for him to want to surround himself with experienced coaches he can trust.
"I’m not going to jump into a situation where I don’t believe we can win. I won’t do that. And I think everything this year we’ve got to do—first of all, I’ve got to get a great staff, not a good staff, a great staff," Meyer said 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."
So, which of those members of Meyer's staff will be the most important when it comes to the early success of his tenure with the Jaguars? We picked five roles to consider here.
The Jaguars will reportedly be hiring former Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as Meyer's first offensive coordinator. Bevell's background as a play-caller and developer of quarterbacks is clear, as is the reason he is set to be such a crucial piece of Meyer's staff in 2021.
For one, the offensive coordinator will be tasked with calling plays and putting together a playbook for a rookie quarterback, who will almost certainly be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The offensive coordinator is important no matter what the staff, but the importance is intensified when there is a quarterback set to take his first NFL snaps. Considering Meyer's lack of an NFL track record, there is no position on his staff that will be more important than his offensive coordinator.
Secondly, the offensive coordinator has to overhaul a unit that struggled in every phase last season. James Robinson produced big numbers but the offense overall was a failure. It finished 30th in points, 27th in offensive DVOA, 25th in yards per play, 29th in first downs, 27th in net yards per pass attempt, and 30th in yards per drive. Simply put, the Jaguars' offense was miserable more often than not and was a major reason the team is now picking No. 1 overall. Meyer's coordinator will have a big retooling on his hands, so the hiring of Bevell or whoever else will be crucial.
While Meyer's defensive coordinator won't have the big responsibility of helping the No. 1 overall pick improve, the coach will be inheriting a defense that needs a rebuild from the inside out after an ugly stretch in 2020. That coordinator is reportedly set to be Baltimore Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen, a coach who will be a first-time coordinator but will quickly be one of Meyer's most important hires.
Cullen will be taking over a defense that badly needs a defined vision. The Jaguars have more or less ran the same brand of defense for the last eight seasons and they have had little to show for it outside of a two-year stretch from 2017-2018. The Jaguars' defense has regressed by leaps and bounds since then due to a major loss of talent at each level of the unit, but the lack of big picture harmed the unit just as much.
Considering Meyer's focuses throughout his career have been on the offensive and special teams sides of the ball, the defensive coordinator will have a lot of responsibilities early on in Meyer's Jaguars tenure. It will be his scheme and ultimately his vision. The Jaguars defense also finished last year ranked 31st in points and yards allowed, defensive DVOA, and first downs allowed, so Meyer will need to make a hire who can quickly make an impact on what was an all-around bad defense.
This one is mostly self-explanatory. The most important player on Jacksonville's roster is set to be whoever is the quarterback in Week 1. Considering this will likely be a rookie Lawrence, the Jaguars need a quarterback coach who is able to help a young passer quickly make the jump from the college game to the pros.
We have seen the importance of having quality quarterback coaches in recent years. Mike Kafka (Kansas City Chiefs), Ken Dorsey (Buffalo Bills), and Pep Hamilton (Los Angeles Chargers) have all been key pieces to the development of some of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. Yes, every one of these passers is naturally gifted and deserves the vast majority of credit for their success, but the quarterbacks coach is among the most important parts of their internal support. Without that support, a young quarterback could quickly falter. With it, a passer could unlock his potential much sooner than later.
Defensive backs coach
We have already discussed why the Jaguars' need at defensive coordinator is so important, but what about the most important assistant on that coordinator's staff? For this Jaguars team, we are going to go with defensive backs coach in terms of immediate importance. There are other position groups to argue for, but the Jaguars badly need a reliable presence and a defensive backs coach who can develop young players.
There are currently only eight cornerbacks on Jacksonville's roster for 2021, and half of those cornerbacks were rookies last season. The Jaguars will undoubtedly have to use either free agency or the draft to replenish the cornerback position a year after the Jaguars' cornerbacks were roasted each Sunday, so a coach who can help them quickly transition to Jacksonville's scheme will be key. One of the most important pieces of Jacksonville's future is CJ Henderson, but there are countless question marks in the secondary around him. If the Jaguars are going to improve their defense, Meyer will need a coach who can help answer those questions.
Offensive line coach
Another one that is mostly obvious, but nevertheless hugely important. A strong offensive line can push an offense over the top completely, something we have seen with teams such as the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in recent years. To help an offensive line turn into that reliable and effective unit the Jaguars need in front of Lawrence and Robinson, Meyer will need to make the right hire. Lawrence is going to be the biggest investment in franchise history, so the Jaguars will need to learn from the Bengals and protect their investment.
Jacksonville's offensive line improved under George Warhop last season, with Brandon Linder, Andrew Norwell, and A.J. Cann all having strong seasons. On the other hand, Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor were among the league leaders in pressures allowed from offensive tackles. Meyer will have to ensure he hires a coach who can show the offensive tackles how to take the next step forward. Without doing so, Lawrence will be at disadvantage.