Urban Meyer: ‘I envisioned we would be a little cleaner team at this point’

Defense has shown improvement; offense still struggling

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer talks with line judge Tim Podraza (47) in the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast) (Aj Mast, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Urban Meyer’s transition to the NFL has been a challenge.

Of course, he knew it wouldn’t be easy, even if he made it look that way in college. But the results have been wildly inconsistent to put it mildly.

The Jaguars are 2-9 and headed to face the Rams on Sunday on the West Coast, a place they historically have not played well at. Jacksonville is 3-14 in games out there, including a 24-point loss to the Seahawks this year. For Meyer, it’s another reminder that things in the NFL don’t come easily. He knew there would be struggles, but the biggest one — a flat offense — remains unfixed.

“To say that I envisioned 2-9, I did not. I envisioned we would be a little cleaner team at this point. But I’ve coached a long time, studied this game a long time, I knew that week in week out, you’re facing the best players on the planet,” Meyer said. “But I thought we’d be a little cleaner by this point, certainly on offense.”

Jacksonville hasn’t scored more than 23 points in a game this season and seems to have gone backwards since beating the Dolphins in London the week before the bye. Jacksonville has just five touchdowns in its five games since the win over Miami, and only two of those through the air.

The Jaguars ran at a higher tempo in last Sunday’s 21-14 loss to the Falcons, something Meyer wants to do more of with quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

“I like it. I like to change tempos on people, and I think we did it 18 times in the game. It was very efficient for us. Once again, teams will be more prepared for it. It’s a two-edged sword I just told you about,” he said. “You run a lot of zone read, you better have the compliments off it. If you run up-tempo, you better be prepared for some kind of pressure now, it’s this, so we have to be ready. But it was very successful for us.”

Those offensive struggles have continued, with injuries taking a bite from an already thin lineup. That’s led to constant roster and lineup tinkering, with particular attention on the team’s receiving corps. There just hasn’t been much stability in that unit.

The Jaguars lost both DJ Chark and Jamal Agnew to season-ending injuries, and tight end Dan Arnold just went on injured reserve with a knee injury.

“Our offense had a nice trajectory going and then we got in a touchdown void where we weren’t scoring points, so you keep adapting to your personnel,” Meyer said. “You’ve been [in] a little fluidity at wide receiver with trying guys out.”

Can Jacksonville muster any sort of consistency against an all-star lineup? Meyer coached against quarterback Matthew Stafford in college during Florida-Georgia games. Bishop Kenny graduate John Wolford is Stafford’s backup. But they’ve had recent struggles, too.

The Rams are 7-4 and riding a three-game losing streak but have one of the best rosters in the NFL. Meyer called defensive tackle “the best I’ve ever seen.” He echoed those comments about former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

“Just capitalize it and underline it and then put that exclamation point,” he said of the Rams’ talent across the board.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.