Urban Meyer: ‘The Jaguars are well-positioned to become competitive’

The Jacksonville Jaguars have named Urban Meyer their next head coach, the team announced on Thursday. Meyer will replace Doug Marrone, who spent five seasons as the team’s head coach before getting fired at season’s end.

With Meyer’s hiring, Jaguars owner Shad Khan is excited about the future, and according to Khan, Meyer is the leader the team needs to win going forward. 

“This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” said Khan. “Urban Meyer is who we want and need a leader, winner, and champion who demands excellence and produces results. While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable. I am proud to name Urban Meyer the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Meyer, a three-time national champion, has a great chance of success when you consider that Jacksonville has the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which probably means Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Also, they have around 70-plus million in cap space in 2021. Meyer believes the draft assets and the commitment from ownership has put this team in an excellent position to be competitive.

“I’m ready to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars,” said Meyer. “Jacksonville has an enthusiastic fan base, and the fans deserve a winning team. With upcoming opportunities in the NFL Draft and strong support from ownership, the Jaguars are well-positioned to become competitive. I’ve analyzed this decision from every angle—the time is right in Jacksonville, and the time is right for me to return to coaching. I’m excited about the future of this organization and our long term prospect for success.”

The 56-year-old Meyer accumulated a 187-32 record and a .854 winning percentage, the third-highest in college football history, during head coaching stints at Ohio State (2012-18), Florida (2005-10), Utah (2003-04), and Bowling Green (2001-02). He is the only modern-day coach to win national championships in two different conferences (SEC in 2006 and 2008 at Florida and Big Ten in 2014 at Ohio State).

Over the years, we have seen college coaches come to the NFL and have a lot of success, like Jimmy Johnson, and we have seen successful college coaches come to the NFL and struggle, like Nick Saban, so we’ll see how Meyer adjusts to the league. However, if you have a franchise quarterback, which many believe Lawrence will be, you have a great chance to win in the NFL. 

We’ll see if Meyer can successfully transition from college to the NFL.

Bucs’ Evans: ‘Our roster, I feel like, is the most talented roster in the league’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has never played this late into a season. In fact, this is his first time being in the playoffs. Evans, who was a limited participant at practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury he suffered in Week 17 against the Falcons, played well in his first career playoff game and finished with six catches for 119 yards in Tampa Bay’s 31-23 road victory over the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card game last Saturday night.

For Evans, playing in his first playoff game was special to the seven-year veteran.

“It meant a lot. I haven’t been to the playoffs – it was my first time, first game in the playoffs,” Evans said on Wednesday. “I was excited to play, it was great weather [and] we had a great week of preparation. It just meant a lot to be out there and to try to make plays to help my team win. The goal is to do enough each week to play the next week, so that’s what we’re doing this week.”

Now, the Buccaneers prepare for a familiar foe in Divisional Round, as they travel to New Orleans to battle the Saints, who have beaten Tampa Bay twice this season and five times overall. In 2020, New Orleans outscored the Buccaneers 72-26, including the Saints’ 38-3 victory over Tampa Bay in November.

According to Evans, who became the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons to begin his career, Tampa Bay is a much different team since that November matchup.

“I feel like we’re getting healthier,’ he said. “Our roster, I feel like, is the most talented roster in the league. We started off as a good team because we just have a lot of great players on our team. But now, we’re forming into a great team. We’ve just got to keep going each week, battling, finding ways to get better, and finding ways to win tough games.”

Even though Tampa Bay has not beaten New Orleans in five tries, Evans believes the Saints are Tampa’s biggest rival.

“It’s definitely a great rivalry,” he said. “When we play each other, [there] is a lot of emotion, a lot of physicality. As players, we love it – we love this rivalry. I know the fans love it. I would say it is our biggest rivalry.”

New Orleans has Tampa Bay’s number at this point, but it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season, so that could work in the Buccaneers’ favor. They have the talent to defeat New Orleans, but based on what we have seen in the regular season, it won’t be easy.

 

Ravens’ Lamar Jackson showed rapper Mike Jones some love(VIDEO)

After defeating the Tennessee Titans last Sunday in the wild card game, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was a happy man. Following his first playoff victory, he showed legendary Houston rapper Mike Jones some love. You remember Mike Jones, whose debut album “Who Is Mike Jones?” dropped in 2005. Jones had many hits on that album, including “Still Trippin” and “Back Then.”

Obviously, based on his reaction, Jackson is a big fan of Jones. When USA Today reporter Mike Jones was called on to ask Jackson a question, the former MVP started laughing, and eventually, he explained why.

Watch below:

Lurie on Wentz: ‘Very fixable, and I fully expect him to realize his potential’

The Doug Pederson era in Philadelphia is over. Pederson was fired by the Eagles, the team announced on Monday. Pederson spent five seasons with the Eagles and has been to the postseason three times, including winning a Super Bowl with the team in 2017. 

The 2020 season was a struggle for Pederson and the Eagles. The team finished a disappointing 4-11-1, and reportedly, QB Carson Wentz, who struggled mightily this season, had a bad relationship with Pederson. According to reports, Wentz felt the relationship with Pederson was irreparable. In 12 starts, the 28-year-old Wentz threw 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions(tied for most in the league), had a 72.8 quarterback rating(second-worst among starting quarterbacks), and was sacked a league-high 50 times. Ultimately, Wentz was benched for the final four games of the season in favor of 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts. 

What the Eagles will do at the quarterback position in 2021 should be interesting, and according to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who addressed the media on Monday after the announcement of Pederson’s firing, the decision on the quarterback position in 2021 is up to the new head coach, but Lurie appears to be a fan of Wentz.

“First of all, I don’t think any owner should decide that,” Lurie said. “Carson, to us, to me, and to I think virtually everybody in our organization, is a quarterback that his first four years was in many ways elite and comparable to some of the great quarterbacks’ first four years in the league.

“Fifth year, obviously not satisfactory, for whatever reasons. There are probably multiple reasons for that. The way I look at it is we have an asset, and we have a talent. He’s a great guy, and he wants nothing but to win big and win Lombardi Trophies for Philadelphia. This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place, and he’s really dedicated off-season, on-season – he’s just what you want. It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to really get him back to that elite progression where he was capable of, and at the same time, understand that there have been many quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year … if you trace this, you can come up with many, many quarterbacks that have a single year where it’s just, whoa, the touchdown-to-interception ratio is not what you want. And we’re talking some great ones, like Peyton [Manning] and Ben [Roethlisberger] and guys like that.

“So I take sort of a more, probably a longer view of this was not the best season for our offense, it was a poor season, and we also had a poor season from Carson in terms of what he’s been able to show in the past. Very fixable, and I fully expect him to realize his potential.”

Based on Wentz’s performance, it appeared that having Hurts around was a distraction to the fifth-year quarterback, so the new coach and organization has to figure out how to fix that situation.

As for Pederson, he will get another job. He’s had a lot of success in Philadelphia and has proven to be a very good coach in the NFL, but at this point, it was not good enough for the Eagles going forward. 

 

NFL announces schedule for Divisional Round next weekend

With the wild card round almost done, the NFL has announced tonight the schedule of sites, dates, and times for the Divisional Playoffs on January 16-17.

Saturday, January 16:

NFC:    4:35 PM (ET)  Los Angeles Rams (11-6) at Green Bay Packers (13-3) (FOX, FOX Deportes)

AFC:    8:15 PM (ET)  Baltimore Ravens or Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (14-3) (NBC, Universo)

Sunday, January 17:

AFC:    3:05 PM (ET)  Cleveland Browns or Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) (CBS, CBS All Access, ESPN Deportes)

NFC:    6:40 PM (ET)  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-5) at New Orleans Saints (13-4) (FOX, FOX Deportes)

Bucs’ Arians believes team has to be better defensively if they want to win in Divisional Round

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their first playoff victory since the 2002 season on Saturday night when they defeated the Washington Football Team 31-23 at FedEx Field in the wild card game.

Tom Brady was solid against Washington. The 43-year-old Brady went 22-of-40 for 381 yards and two touchdowns. His 381 passing yards set a new single-game franchise postseason record. The postseason win was the 31st of Brady’s NFL career, which are the most playoff wins by any player in league history.

“I think it’s good to win and advance,” Brady said after the game. “If we don’t play well next week, we’re not going to be happy. [I’m] glad we won [and] glad we have another week of work. We’re going to go in there and try to do a much better job this week and get ready for whoever our opponent is – it’s going to be a good one. We’re going to have to go play great football.”

According to Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate, who caught four passes for 80 yards – the second-most receiving yards by a tight end in Buccaneers playoff history, Tampa Bay did not play their best football on Saturday, but he’s happy to get the victory.

 “Super excited about the win,” Brate said. “We didn’t play our best game, but I thought Washington really played us well. Offensively, they made a bunch of plays. Defensively, they presented a big challenge with the guys they have up front. We didn’t play our best game, but at this point of the year, a win is a win.”

Tampa Bay’s defense allowed Washington QB Taylor Heinicke, who started for an injured Alex Smith, to throw for 306 yards and a touchdown and an interception. Heinicke also rushed for 46 yards and added a touchdown on the ground. 

After the game, Arians was asked if the team’s performance against Washington was good enough to win in the Divisional Round, he said the following:

 “No, this performance defensively, it wouldn’t be,” Arians said. “Offensively, it would be. We’ll show up and see. I think some of our guys – I don’t think veterans did, but some of our younger guys – might have relaxed when Alex Smith wasn’t playing. I kind of kept preaching at them, ‘This kid can run, he can do a lot of things.’ He almost beat us with his legs. I’m never going to apologize for winning, and next week’s next week.”

If the Saints defeat the Bears on Sunday, the fifth-seeded Buccaneers will head to New Orleans to battle the second-seeded Saints, who beat Tampa Bay twice this season. However, Arians believes his team is much better now than they were when New Orleans blew them out in Tampa Bay 38-3 back in November.

“It doesn’t matter. We’re playing – that’s all that matters,” Arians said. “We’re a better football team than the last time we played the Saints – if we go there. It doesn’t matter to me.”

The Buccaneers live to fight another day. Now, for this season to be memorable, they must continue to win, and they will have that opportunity next weekend in the Divisional Round. However, they do need to play better.

Jags’ Robinson a finalist for NFL Rookie of the Year

The National Football League today announced RB James Robinson as a finalist for the 2020 PEPSI ZERO SUGAR NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award. Robinson would be the first undrafted player in NFL history to win the award.

The 2020 PEPSI ZERO SUGAR NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award will be recognized in Tampa Bay and presented a trophy virtually during Super Bowl LV festivities and online.

Robinson started 14 games in 2020 and finished with 1,414 scrimmage yards (1,070 rushing, 344 receiving), the most scrimmage yards by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. He was the only rookie in the NFL to average more than 100 scrimmage yards per game this season. His 1,070 rushing yards ranked second among rookies and fifth overall. Robinson’s 1,070 rushing yards stand as the second-most by a rookie in franchise history, trailing only RB Fred Taylor (1,223 in 1998).

The Illinois State product scored 10 total TDs (seven rushing, three receiving), which were tied for the fourth-most among rookies in the NFL in 2020. He also led all rookie running backs this season in receptions (49) and receiving TDs (three). His 49 receptions eclipsed RB Maurice Jones-Drew’s record (46) for most receptions by a rookie running back in franchise history.

“He is almost not human the way he, week in and week out, is able to perform,” WR Collin Johnson said. “It’s just impressive and motivating too, seeing an undrafted guy come in here and put up the numbers he’s doing and being such a good teammate. It’s motivating. He’s a great guy for our locker room and just a beast.”

He is the third undrafted rookie with 10 TDs in the common-draft era, joining RB Phillip Lindsay (2018) and Dominic Rhodes (2001). Robinson had seven games with at least 100 scrimmage yards this season, tied with Clark Gaines (seven games in 1976) for the most such games by an undrafted rookie since 1967.

Robinson was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month in September after starting the first three games of the season and registering 339 scrimmage yards (210 rushing, 129 receiving) and three TDs. He became the first undrafted player in NFL history to post at least 300 scrimmage yards and multiple TDs through three career games, and his 339 scrimmage yards are the most ever by an undrafted player through three career games. His 339 scrimmage yards and 210 rushing yards are both the most in team history through a player’s first three games.

Vikings’ Jefferson named Second-Team All-Pro

Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson was tabbed Second Team All-Pro by The Associated Press.  Jefferson garners his first All-Pro nod in his rookie campaign after a record-setting season in 2020.

The Associated Press NFL All-Pro teams are voted on by a national panel of 50 media members.

He is the only rookie to be named First or Second Team All-Pro this season and one of two rookies to receive votes (along with Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs). Jefferson is the first Vikings rookie to garner All-Pro honors since Cordarrelle Patterson was selected First Team All-Pro as a kick returner in 2013. In December, the LSU product joined Randy Moss (1998) and Sammy White (1976) as the only Vikings rookie wide receivers to be named to the Pro Bowl in their first seasons.

Jefferson also joined Moss and Amari Cooper (2015) as the only wide receivers in NFL history to be named to a Pro Bowl at the age of 21. Percy Harvin (2009) and Mecole Hardman (2019) were both selected at the age of 21 as return specialists. The fifth receiver drafted in 2020, Jefferson broke the 18-year, Super Bowl-era rookie record for receiving yards (1,400) and set Vikings rookie records for receiving yards, receptions (88) and 100- yard games (7), passing the marks established by Hall of Famer Randy Moss during his 1998 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Jefferson’s 1,400 yards ranked third among wide receivers, and his 23 receptions that gained 20 or more yards tied for the most in the league.

With his 133-yard performance at Detroit in Week 17, Jefferson became just the second player in the Super Bowl era to record seven 100-yard receiving games as a rookie, joining Odell Beckham Jr. (2014). His 87.5 receiving yards per game also rank second-most by a rookie in the history of the league behind only Beckham Jr. (108.8). Overall, the St. Rose, Louisiana, native joined Moss (in the 1999, 2000 and 2003 season) as the only players in team history to tally 1,400 receiving yards or more in a single season.

Brady: ‘Playoff football is pretty special’

Tom Brady got the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and now he is hoping to get this franchise a second Super Bowl title. The journey begins on Saturday night when Tampa Bay(11-5) travels to D.C to battle the Washington Football(7-9) in the wild-card game.

As they enter the playoffs, Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense has been rolling. Tampa Bay has averaged 40 points a game, and in those three contests, Brady has thrown for 1137 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception.

The 43-year-old Brady looks comfortable in this offense, and they are flourishing on that side of the ball at the right time. 

“I’d say every week is getting a little bit better and a little bit more consistent [with] better communication,” Brady said about the offense on Thursday. “We’re all understanding each other a little bit better each week. Football season is tough – there’s a lot of things to coordinate, there’s a lot of moving parts, different players, and in and out, you’re running different schemes. But I think we’ve just tried to not take the foot off the gas pedal [and] tried to understand each other a little bit better each week and try to put ourselves in a decent position.”

According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay will be tough to beat if they continue to score at this level.

“I don’t think with our defense we’re going to lose too many games if we can score 37,” he said. “I’m really satisfied with 30.”

During his 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady has missed the playoffs only once, and according to the six-time Super Bowl winner, being in the playoffs is a privilege.

“Any time you make the playoffs, it’s a good feeling, and it’s a great opportunity to be playing this weekend. A privilege, I think, for all of us, he said. “I think we want to go make the most of it. Playoff football is pretty special to be a part of, and I’ll be excited to be out there Saturday night…

“I think it’s a different newness, but the same excitement to be ready to go out there and take a bunch of teammates. Going on the road in the playoffs is a tough thing to do. We’re a team that’s made a bunch of improvements over the course of the year, and we have to be at our best. That’s what this part of the season is all about. Regular season is what it is. You put it in the books [and] we’re here to win playoff games.”

Tampa Bay should beat Washington on Saturday; they are just the better team. However, it’s one game, and anything can happen, but with Brady at the helm, expect the Buccaneers to make it to the divisional round of the playoffs.

 

Brady named FexEx Air Player of the Week

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was named FedEx Air Player of the Week for Week 17, the NFL announced on Wednesday, marking the 12th time Brady has won this award in his career and the second time with the Buccaneers.

In a 44-27 win versus Atlanta, Brady completed 26-of-41 passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns, recording a 117.8 passer rating. His 399 passing yards were the second most by any player in the final week of the 2020 regular season while his four passing touchdowns tied for the most.

The 43-year-old Brady finished his first season in Tampa Bay with a franchise-record 40 passing touchdowns to go along with 4,633 yards, which rank as the second-most in a single season in team history. Brady’s 102.2 passer rating in 2020 is the highest single-season mark in team history (min. 224 attempts). His 40 passing touchdowns surpassed Peyton Manning (37 in 2012 with Denver) for the most by a player in his first season with a team, while his 4,633 passing yards are the second-most by a player in his first season with a team.