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. 

How to watch Super Bowl 2023: TV channel, live stream info, start time, halftime show, and more

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Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 PM ET at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals–in Glendale, Arizona as Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles will look to win their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history and Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs make their third Super Bowl appearance in the last four seasons.

Not only will the match up feature two top seeds for the first time since 2017, but Super Bowl 2023 will be especially monumental because this is the first time that two Black quarterbacks will face each other in the league’s biggest game of the year.

RELATED: What to know about the 2023 Pro Bowl –  Dates, how to watch/live stream info, AFC, NFC coaches, competition schedule

Super Bowl 2023 will be nothing short of exciting, see below for additional information on how to watch/live stream the game as well as answers to all your frequently asked questions.

How to Watch Super Bowl 2023 – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs

  • Date: Sunday, February 12
  • Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Network: Fox

Who is playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Who is the home team in Super Bowl 2023 and how is it determined?

The Philadelphia Eagles are the home team in Super Bowl 2023. The designated home team alternates each year between the NFC and AFC champions. If it is as odd-numbered Super Bowl, the NFC team is the designated home team. If it as even-numbered Super Bowl, the AFC team is the designated home team.

Which teams have been eliminated from the 2023 NFL Playoffs?

The Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals have all been eliminated from the 2023 NFL playoffs.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs scores: Final bracket, recaps, results for every AFC and NFC postseason game

Who is performing the halftime show at Super Bowl 2023?

It was announced in September, that international popstar, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Rihanna will headline the halftime show at Super Bowl 2023.

RELATED: Super Bowl 2023 – What to know about national anthem, pregame performers ahead of Super Bowl LVII

Why does the NFL use Roman numerals?

AFL and Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt proposed using Roman numerals for each Super Bowl to add pomp and gravitas to the game. Roman numerals were, unsurprisingly, used in ancient Rome as a number system. I stands for 1, V for 5, X for 10, L for 50 and C for 100. That’s right: In 2066, get ready for Super Bowl C.

Super Bowl V was the first to use Roman numerals. They were retroactively added to the Super Bowl II to IV logos and have been used each year since⁠ until 2016. For Super Bowl L, or 50, the NFL tried out 73 different logos before breaking down and using a plain old “50.”

The Roman numerals for this year’s big game, Super Bowl 57, are LVII.

RELATED: Super Bowl halftime shows – Ranking the 10 best Super Bowl halftime show performances in NFL history

How many Super Bowls have the Eagles won in franchise history?

The Eagles have won just one Super Bowl title in franchise history, however, Super Bowl LVII will be their fourth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

RELATED: Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl History

How many Super Bowls have the Chiefs won in franchise history?

The Chiefs have won two Super Bowls in franchise history (1969 and 2019). Super Bowl LVII will be the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl appearance.

RELATED: Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl History

Who was the first Black quarterback to play in a Super Bowl?

Doug Williams was the first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. Williams, a product of Grambling State–a historically Black university–achieved the milestone on January 31, 1988 in Super Bowl XXII as the QB for Washington.

RELATED: FMIA Conference Championships – Eagles rout Niners, Chiefs outlast Bengals to set Super Bowl LVII stage

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

Chiefs Super Bowl history: When is the last time Kansas City made it to, won the Super Bowl?

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After losing 27-24 in OT to the Cincinnati Bengals in last year’s AFC Championship, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are back in the postseason for the 8th straight year. The Chiefs are now set to make their third Super Bowl appearance in the last 4 seasons, after a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game but their history with the NFL’s most coveted game is so much more.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule – Bracket, game dates, times and TV networks

Super Bowl LVII  takes place on Sunday, February 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. See below for additional information on how to watch.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Founded in 1960 by Lamar Hunt, the Chiefs started in the American Football League as the Dallas Texans. After winning the 1962 American Football League Championship in the longest championship game in professional football history, Hunt decided to relocate to Kansas City. The team changed its name to the “Chiefs” in honor of Mayor Harold Roe Bartle, who convinced Hunt to move the team to the City of Fountains.

After winning the AFL Championship in 1966, Kansas City represented the American Football League in the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, retroactively known as the first Super Bowl, on January 15, 1967, against the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers. Kansas City played Green Bay close in the first half, but Green Bay scored 21 unanswered points to win the game.

RELATED: When do the 2022 NFL Playoffs start: dates, schedule, playoff format, overtime rules, and more

It wouldn’t take the Chiefs long to taste victory in the Super Bowl though – it came just three years later in Super Bowl IV. Though they faced the feared Purple People Eaters of the Minnesota Vikings defense, Kansas City head coach Hank Stram had a plan. He took advantage of Minnesota’s aggressive defensive with short passes and trap plays. The Chiefs would prevail 23-7 for Kansas City’s first Super Bowl win.

It would be another 50 years until The Kingdom made its return to the Super Bowl, but it would come back armed with some of the most explosive weapons the NFL has ever seen.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs scores: Final bracket, recaps, results for every AFC and NFC postseason game

When was the Chiefs’ last Super Bowl win?

Half of a century went by before the Chiefs earned a Super Bowl berth, but they were back in the 2019 season with a bang in Super Bowl LIV. Led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was coming off an MVP season the previous year, Kansas City made it to the championship game overcoming double-digit deficits in the Divisional Round and AFC Championship Game. They even fell behind by 10 in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers.

However, the magic wasn’t over for the Chiefs. The offense scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure the team’s second Super Bowl championship. Kansas City retained most of their core and many expected them back in the championship game in 2021.

RELATED: What are the highest-scoring and lowest-scoring Super Bowls in NFL history?

When was the last Chiefs Super Bowl appearance?

While the team did make it to the Super Bowl in the 2020 season, they ran into an old nemesis. Quarterback Tom Brady was now with the NFC Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the last time he faced Kansas City was in 2018 as a member of the New England Patriots, who eliminated the Chiefs in the AFC Championship.

He would get the better of them again.

Kansas City could not stop Brady and the Bucs’ offensive onslaught. On the other side, Patrick Mahomes couldn’t move the ball against a Tampa Bay defense that caught fire in the postseason. The end result was a 31-9 rout with The Buccaneers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and the Chiefs hoping to get back to the Super Bowl next year.

Chiefs Super Bowl history

  • 1966 season: Lost Super Bowl I vs. the Green Bay Packers, 35-10
  • 1969 season: Won Super Bowl IV vs. the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7
  • 2019 season: Won Super Bowl LIV vs. the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20
  • 2020 season: Lost Super Bowl LV vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-9

Chiefs Super Bowl records and firsts

  • Tied for fewest touchdowns – 0 (Super Bowl LV)
  • Hank Stram was the first head coach ever to be “miked for sound” in the Super Bowl (Super Bowl IV)
  • Lowest attendance for Super Bowl – 24,835 (Super Bowl LV) *due to COVID Pandemic 
  • Lowest attendance, attendance not restricted –  61,946 (Super Bowl I)
  • Participated in first Super Bowl
  • First team to come back from three double-digit deficits in the playoffs and win Super Bowl (2019)
  • Most penalty yards in a half (Super Bowl LV)

How can I watch and live stream Super Bowl 2023?

  • When: Sunday, February 12, 2023
  • Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
  • TV Channel: FOX
  • Follow along with ProFootballTalk and NBC Sports for NFL news, updates, scores, injuries, and more

RELATED: Who is playing in Super Bowl 2023?

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!


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.

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. 

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What devices are compatible with Peacock?

Peacock is available on a variety of devices. See the full list here.

In addition to Sunday Night Football, what else can I watch with Peacock Premium?

Premium is your key to unlocking everything Peacock has to offer. You’ll get access to all the live sports and events we have, including Premier League and WWE Premium Live Events like WrestleMania. You’ll also get full seasons of exclusive Peacock Original series, next-day airings of current NBC and Telemundo hits, plus every movie and show available on Peacock. There is always something new to discover on Peacock Premium.

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!