Jaguars' QB Trevor Lawrence is 'focused' after Meyer firing
After weeks of controversy, negative reports and much more, the Jaguars finally dismissed their coach, but the question remains, will that stop the rot?
It's been an eventful few weeks for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it seems things may be looking up.
Trevor Lawrence speaks about the locker room
During the last 11 months, the Jaguars have been plagued by a whole host of problems. From on field errors, to off field controversy as well as anonymous reports of rifts between the coaching staff, head coach Urban Meyer and players, Jacksonville has looked to be a team unstuck in recent days. Yet it seems now with Meyer out, that things may finally be able to return to normal. After the coach was dismissed on Thursday morning, the Jaguars announced that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell would step in as interim coach. A decision that was well received by the team including both quarterback Trevor Lawrence and cornerback Shak Griffin.
"He's very even keel," Lawrence said of Bevell, who incidentally also stood in as the Detroit Lions' interim head coach for the final five games of the 2020 season. "Always the same person never gets too high or too low. That's something that I respect and that I can level with. So I'd say that's the biggest thing that we need right now. Someone that's consistent and just to move forward and push past it," he added.
In the aftermath of Urban Meyer
It must be said that Meyer's fall from grace could have been seen coming a long way off. Initially the coach courted controversy when he appointed Chris Doyle to the position of strength coach. Doyle had previously been accused of making racist comments towards black players at Iowa and engaging in bullying. Then there was Meyer's infamous social media scenario in which a video of him behaving inappropriately with a woman in a bar in Ohio was posted online. Still, it did not stop there as the Jaguars and Meyer were fined $200,000 and $100,000 respectively after they were found to have had excessive contact during an organized team activity held on June 1st.
Finally, things came to a head when it was reported last week that Meyer had called his coaching staff losers as well as engaged in a verbal altercation with receiver Marvin Jones who subsequently left the team's facility in frustration. Incredibly it was also alleged by kicker Josh Lambo that Meyer kicked him during a warm up session in the last week. In all the decision to part company with Meyer eventually became unavoidable.
The Jaguars want to move forward
It is now clear that Meyer had a negative effect on the franchise such that Lawrence, the team and of course owner Shad Khan both characterized it as unnecessary drama and more over drama that was now taking away from on field performances with the team sat on a 2-11 record having most recently been shutout 20-0 against Tennessee. "I wouldn't believe you if you told me this is how this year was going to go," Lawrence said. " ...I think it [the coaching change] brings a little bit of clarity to the guys in the locker room. I wouldn't say relief, but I would say just bring some clarity and some direction moving forward."
"You know, we really want to go and finish the season strong and to be honest, it's been hard to last the last week with everything going on. And there's a lot of things being stirred up I think by the outside, too. That didn't help [and] made things a lot worse, but also everything that's going on. It's hard to be focused and have all your attention and efforts going towards winning the game when there's so many things going on."
Both Lawrence and Griffin were quick point out that "relief" wasn't exactly the word to describe the feeling inside the locker room, however, given what has transpired over the last two months, it would be hard to argue that it's not part of it. Speaking on the change, cornerback Shak Griffin echoed Lawrence's position. "I think 'focused' is the right one," Griffin said. "I feel like there has been a lot going on and to see how everybody is focused on what's going on around in the locker room and trying to figure out what has been going on the field and trying to make changes. I feel like that's the right word to use. Then practice and seeing the way the offense attacked the day, it was amazing to see. I feel like we need to see that. We needed that, they needed that and it's a boost of confidence and I love seeing that."
" ... I feel like definitely the right word is 'focus.' The focus in the locker room is definitely there and that's where it needs to be. Just keeping the main focus on this organization and the guys that are playing. It's been looking good in the locker room for sure."
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How are things for the Jaguars now?
Regardless of opinion, it was clear to see that there was a lightheartedness to the mood around the Jaguars' facility on Thursday. Defensive lineman Jihad Ward could be seen doing several handstands during training while others jokes and laughed. Where interim coach Bevell is concerned, he has been quick to make minor - but telling - changes. There will no longer be an announcer at practices and he's made clear that he intends to coach from the sideline for the rest of the season. Indeed Bevell noted that this last year - when Meyer moved him to the box - is the only year in his career when he has not done so.
"It's kind of been foreign to be up in the box these last 13 weeks or whatever it's been. So, I'm excited to get back down there," said Bevell, who added that he's going to call plays this week but will re-evaluate that next week. "There's just great energy when you're on the field. It's like playing a video game when you are up there. It's so stale, it's so quiet. So, it's good to be around the guys, the interaction is better, communication can be better with the players. I have great communication with the coaches on the headset but being able to see their eyes and talk to them, it's a different experience being on the field."
Interestingly Bevell also confirmed that Meyer left the Jaguars facility at approximately 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday. As such the game-plan for Sunday's home game against the Texans was constructed without him. Additionally Bevell also admitted that he had not spoken with Meyer since and subsequently had no desire to speak on the tension between Meyer and the staff, seeing it as a matter of the past now. "Coach Meyer brought me in here and I have a lot of respect for him and what he did for me and my family," Bevell said. "Other than that, I just really want to - as I said to the team, we're not looking back, today is a new day. We're moving forward and I just want to move ahead and all eyes and everything that we're doing, I want it to be on Houston."