Urban Meyer on drafting Trevor Lawrence: That’s the direction we’re going

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One by one, the 2021 draft dominoes fall. One month from tonight, Roger Goodell will take the stage in downtown Cleveland—set on the shore of Lake Erie between the football stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—to announce the first-round picks in the 86th NFL Draft. In the wake of 26 minutes that shook the NFL on Friday, it looks like the first three (maybe four) names out of Goodell’s mouth will be quarterbacks.

There’s been little mystery about the first domino to fall on April 29, but let’s make it officially official.

“Is there any real mystery that you’re picking Trevor Lawrence?” I asked Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer the other day.

“Uh,” Meyer said, not flinching, “I’d have to say that’s the direction we’re going. I’ll leave that up to the owner when we make that decision official. But I’m certainly not stepping out of line that that’s certainly the direction we’re headed.”

I loved it. Why hide what you’re doing, just for fake NFL drama? Meyer’s been laser-focused on Lawrence since, as a FOX college football analyst, meeting him during college football playoff prep. Meyer’s extremely close to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, and has a pipeline to all things Lawrence, on and off the field. Fair to say he couldn’t be more comfortable with his first pick as an NFL head coach.

“Trevor checks all the boxes, you know?” Meyer told me. “The number one common quality of every great player, not just quarterback, is competitive maniac. He’s 34-2. Won a national title as a true freshman. Is a winner. I’ve seen him up close and in person compete. And then character. I see him and I witness with my players, when the guys get drafted high, a lot of people get . . . They have influences in their live. Like, whether it be social media, whether it be other things that really don’t pertain to winning. What I’m really pleased with and I don’t want to say surprised, but him, his agent, his family, they’re focused on one thing. He wants to become the best version of himself for the National Football League, which is, well, it is somewhat refreshing.”

*****

Today is Meyer’s 75th day on the job. He hasn’t met his full team yet. That bugs him, as it would any coach trying to get to know his players. He’s adjusting to life in pro football, and he knew this was coming, but the rhythms of an NFL coach’s job are far different than what he got used to in 17 years as a college coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State.

“Not much has surprised me other than the fact you just don’t get to be around your players as much,” Meyer told me from his office at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. You’ll be able to hear and see my conversation with Meyer, and on NBC Sports’ YouTube page, when The Peter King Podcast posts by 6 p.m. ET today.

“In college, you got 75 guys rolling through your facility every day. One of my favorite things to do is go down to the weight room and hang out with the players while they’re lifting weights. There’s about 20 guys rolling around here [now in the Jags’ weight room]. Nothing’s mandatory. I think a lot of people coach for a lot of reasons. Mine is relationship with players and it’s hard . . . I talk to them on the phone quite a bit. I have not had one team meeting. Think about that. I’ve been the head coach since January and we have not had a team meeting because we’re not allowed. So that’s the biggest adjustment.”

My biggest question about Meyer is staying power. He is 56 years old. He resigned from Florida in 2009 at 45 for health reasons (chest pains, severe headaches due to a brain cyst), then said it was a leave of absence, then returned to the job the following spring. He announced his retirement after the 2010 season, then returned to coach at Ohio State 11 months later. He retired at the end of the 2018 season, again citing health reasons. Then he started to get the itch again in January 2020.

“I gave a lot of thought to [his health issues],” Meyer said. “Obviously, this was not a knee-jerk reaction. This is something that I’ve been studying for at least 12 months, starting back in January. Studying the roster, studying the lifestyle, studying everything about it. I’ve done my due diligence on it. But I’m committed to Jacksonville. I told that to our owner.

“Florida was stress-related. At Ohio State, I went seven years and I kind of knew down the road, I was getting near the end. Plus I found the right guy. Ohio State’s very personal to me. When I found the right coach in Ryan Day, and he almost left the year before to become a head coach, I went to our president and I went to our AD. I said I found the right guy. All the assistant coaches, all the strength staff, the training staff, the infrastructure stays in place and the organization just continues to thrive. That’s everybody’s dream. That’s what happened at Ohio State. At Ohio State, I didn’t have stress-related issues. I had some health-related issues—the Arachnoid [brain] cyst issue I had dealt with. I had surgery in ’14 and some stuff. I worked through that pretty well.”

I told him the last superstar college coach to make the jump to the NFL, Nick Saban, lasted two seasons 15 years ago. Two years into a five-year contract, with a 15-17 record, Saban asked Miami owner Wayne Huizenga to be let out of his contract so he could coach Alabama. Huizenga gave his blessing. As for being a short-termer like Saban, I asked Meyer: “You think there’s zero chance that happens? Little chance?”

“Zero chance at that happening,” Meyer said. “What Coach Saban went through, I don’t know. That’s Coach Saban’s business. I’m not quite sure. At some point, I might talk to him about it . . . he’s a friend of mine and I got great respect for him. It is different. It’s completely different. My mind is set. There’s gonna be some losses . . . That’s gonna be miserable. I hate losing. We all do. But the reality is that you’re gonna lose. Hopefully you win more than you lose. But that’s something that’s gonna be new to me. I have to get my mind right and I’m working on that.”

The course of NFL history could have changed—college football history too—if the Dolphins signed Drew Brees in 2006 instead of Daunte Culpepper. But Miami docs wouldn’t pass Brees on his physical because of shoulder surgery. And 10 months later, Saban was in Tuscaloosa. Most Sabanphiles think he’d have stuck around if he thought he had a real chance to win. But without a good quarterback, he bailed after his 6-10 season in 2006.

Saban tried to rebuild on the fly with a bad QB situation. The difference with Meyer, of course, is Jacksonville will have one of the brightest quarterback prospects to enter the NFL in some time, and Meyer can refine and sculpt a great talent in his image. The Jags also had more cap room than any team in 2021 free agency, and they still have a league-high $40-million available to spend. Finally, Jacksonville has a league-best five picks in the top 65 of the draft. Saban never had any of that. Meyer understands that what happens this year will determine in large part whether he can turn around this franchise.

“The Jacksonville Jaguars had a nice run as an expansion team with Tom Coughlin, had some very great core players,” said Meyer. “And then they kind of fell off a little bit. And then in 2017, almost made it to the Super Bowl. This Duval County [home county of the Jags] is starving to win. It’s almost like it lined up pretty—I don’t wanna say perfectly, because you have a lot of draft picks, 11 of them. You have salary cap [room], which we addressed a bunch of needs. We didn’t maybe sign the big, big-name guy because we really couldn’t. But it just aligned. And then you have the number one pick in the draft. This will set the stage for the Jaguars’ future for several years, if we do it right. If we don’t . . . [pause] it’s not easy.”

Meyer has had two good NFL mentors. He’s become close to Jimmy Johnson (they were FOX-mates) and Johnson counseled him on NFL potholes. Meyer also had several visits to Patriots camp in recent years and got to know Bill Belichick. “I got something every time I visited the Patriots,” he said.

I asked him for an example.

“Well, Tom Brady,” Meyer said. “I got to witness Tom Brady first-hand and it was the last day of a mini camp in June. I had been to a few of those and usually people had one foot out the door. They just got done with a very long, seven/eight weeks in the offseason. You’re talking about the greatest quarterback of all time. Mike Vrabel was there. Tedy Bruschi was there. I was blown away.

“The last day of mini-camp, they’re in shorts, helmets, and they’re doing a two-minute drill. And Tom Brady is treating it like it’s the Super Bowl. He goes down and he scores with two seconds left to win that scrimmage. Ran around the field like a child—that’s how competitive he is. I went back immediately to my quarterbacks and shared with them that I just watched the greatest of all time, and the way you’re supposed to practice, the way you’re supposed to provide energy to the rest of your team and the way you lead your team. I was blown away at Tom Brady and the way he performed at practice. And the way I went into the offensive meetings with Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady and Tom Brady’s actually the one who had the clicker in his hand. It was amazing. He was in there running the film. He had the offensive line sitting there, running backs, receivers, and Tom Brady was running the clicker and watching practice film, dissecting the plays with the offense. Think about that for a minute. You can say he throws a great pass. But people that really understand the game—there’s much more than that that makes him the best of all time.”

Culture will be big for Meyer. It’s a major mantra. When I asked him about the NFL ethos that drags the great teams toward the middle and drags the bad teams to the middle, he said that was something he studied “quite a bit.” He believes maintaining greatness when the world works against it is part of an ethos built in an organization before the first games is ever played—how to avoid .500 when the league plots for teams to be exactly that.

“I asked that same question to [Belichick] many, many times,” Meyer said. “It came back to me and that’s why I’m such a believer in culture. Culture survives. Culture survives injuries to players, transitions to players, transition of staff. Coach Belichick’s the best I’ve ever witnessed at it. There’s a Patriot way and a Patriot culture there. It’s not for everybody. Matter of fact, I’ve heard them criticized, too. That’s fine. That’s his way of doing it. My Utah days and Florida days, I like to think that’s what made us sustainable all the years.

“You can say, well, Florida, Ohio State, you have better players the most. But it’s also, you have to win every game you play. You’re in March Madness at Ohio State. You can’t lose one game or it’s a failure. We got to that point at Florida. I remember we went 14-1 one year, or 13-1. I heard people say ‘Hey, we’ll get ‘em next year. Tough year this year, coach.’ I say, My gosh. Those other teams had scholarships, too. I think—no, I don’t think, I know this. The thing that made the Patriots so strong is the culture that Bill Belichick and Mr. Kraft built in that organization.”

“Quarterback helped,” I said.

“Part of that culture,” Meyer said.

A very big part.

Two more things.

One: “What’d you learn from your experience with Chris Doyle?” I asked. Doyle, the former Iowa conditioning coach, left there under a cloud, accused of using racist language with players, got hired by Meyer, and “offered his resignation” (the press release said) the next day when the heat hit Meyer.

“I did our due diligence on that,” Meyer said. “But one thing that I made a self-promise—if it’s a distraction . . . it was the right thing for Chris to move on because it became a distraction to our team. Anything that’s a distraction to our team, I want to make sure we avoid.”

Anything that’s a distraction like that, Meyer should see coming, and should have people with the backbone to tell him. That’s why I thought the hire of Amy Palcic as Jags VP of Communications was smart. She’s got a spine and won’t be afraid to tell Meyer some hard truths. Never having worked in the NFL before, Meyer will need that. The Doyle situation won’t be the last ugly one—but some can be avoided before they ever happen. And the Doyle hire should never have happened.

Two: Standing uncomfortably close to Trevor Lawrence during his Pro Day. I don’t know—that was curious to me, and got some attention a couple of weeks ago at Lawrence’s Clemson workout.

“I was as close as I could be,” Meyer said. “I’m that way at practice, though. I like to be near a quarterback. I like to hear him talk. I like to hear a ball come out of his hand. I like to hear—”

“Do you really hear [a difference]?” I wondered. “You can really tell something by hearing the ball come out of a quarterback’s hand?”

“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “Absolutely. The violence, the snap that the ball comes out with, the grunt or the effort. Some guys throw a ball effortless and some people have to really rear back and throw it. Absolutely. Someday, Peter, I’ll have you stand there and let you listen. I’ll have an average guy throw one and then I’ll have him throw it. You tell me if you can hear the difference.”

This summer, I hope. August. In Urban Meyer’s first camp as an NFL head coach.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here. 

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

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The 2022 NFL Football season is finally back in session. This Sunday night features a match-up between Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers vs Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. NBC and Peacock have got you covered with access to this week’s game as well as every Sunday Night Football game this season. See below for the complete 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule and find out how to live stream every game on Peacock.

RELATED: FMIA Week 2 – Mike McDaniel’s ‘F— It’ Play Powers Dolphins’ Comeback and How 49ers Adjust Without Trey Lance

This year’s Sunday Night Football coverage will feature Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth in the booth and Melissa Stark on the sidelines. Live coverage begins every Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America with the talented group of Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Jac Collinsworth, Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. Berry, a fantasy football industry pioneer, will also appear on Peacock’s exclusive NFL post-game show, Sunday Night Football Final.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by Simms and sports betting and Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – 49ers at Broncos

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Chiefs at Buccaneers

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

 RELATED: How to watch 49ers vs Broncos – Live stream, TV Channel, Game Preview


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

RELATED: PFT’s Week 3 2022 NFL power rankings

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: PFT’s Week 2 2022 NFL picks


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

What channel, time is the NFL game tonight? TV, kickoff, live stream for 49ers vs Broncos

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Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers take on Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos tonight on NBC and Peacock. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America. The NFL Sunday excitement kicks off with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups

NBC has got you covered with all you need to know about the game including the TV channel, start time, live stream information, and more.

Football Night in America will also feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: How to watch 49ers vs Broncos – TV/Live Stream info for tonight’s game

What channel is tonight’s Sunday Night Football game on?

  • Where: Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado
  • When: Sunday, September 25
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

          RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

Where to live stream 49ers vs Broncos online tonight

Tonight’s game between the San Francisco 49ers vs Denver Broncos can be streamed live on multiple platforms tonight including NBCsports.com, the NBC Sports App, and Peacock.

This NFL season, Peacock will stream all of NBC’s NFL games including regular season and playoff games. More from Peacock’s website:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football with a Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here.

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo – Return to 49ers offense just like riding a bike

Week 3 Schedule

WEEK 3
Thursday, Sept. 22
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns, 8:15 p.m., Prime Video
Sunday, Sept. 25
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., FOX
Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., CBS
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m., CBS
Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX
Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m., FOX
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m., CBS
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., FOX
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Commanders, 1 p.m., FOX
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS
Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m., FOX
Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m., FOX
Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m., FOX
San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos, 8:20 p.m., NBC/Peacock
Monday, Sept. 26
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants, 8:15 p.m., ESPN/ABC

RELATED: See the 2022 NFL Sunday Night Football schedule here

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!