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One of those assistants, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, was introduced as the Jaguars' interim head coach on Thursday, though the news conference began in a way you often don't see after a coach has just been fired. It started with a joke, from an unknown source:
"I think you've got a really good chance of finishing with more career wins as an interim coach than Urban has as a head coach."
Bevell declined to respond to the joke, but it was clear he was trying not to laugh:
Reporter: "I think you got a really got a chance to finish with more career wins as an interim coach than Urban has a HC."
Bevell's reaction: pic.twitter.com/jVl5li7hgI
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) December 16, 2021
Whoever did tell Bevell that, they are correct that the coach has a good chance of surpassing Meyer's grand total of two wins as an NFL head coach. He already has one from his time as the interim coach with the Detroit Lions last year, and the Jaguars have two winnable games in the next two weeks against the Houston Texans and New York Jets.
Once the laughter had passed, Bevell did provide some kind words about Meyer, thanking the coach for hiring him and assembling their staff. It was a gracious way to handle a situation that had devolved from unusual to surreal in recent weeks, especially when Meyer had reportedly lambasted his own coaches behind closed doors.
Bevell did, however, take one step in pushing back on the Meyer drama. He definitively stated running back James Robinson is the team's starter and will receive a starter's workload. Robinson, who rushed for 1,000 yards last year, had previously been benched by Meyer, though the coach had avoided taking any public responsibility for the decision.
How the Jaguars found out Meyer had been fired
Discussion around Meyer's job status had swirled on Wednesday after news broke that he physically kicked veteran kicker Josh Lambo during training camp, but it was only reported after midnight on the East Coast that owner Shad Khan had decided to fire the coach.
That created some fun news for Jaguars players to wake up to, though Bevell already knew what was up. He confirmed to reporters that Meyer exited the Jaguars building on Wednesday, leaving his assistants to game plan for this week's Texans matchup. Late that night, he said general manager Trent Baalke called him to relay the news and offer him the interim job.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who spoke with reporters after Bevell, described his process of finding out the next morning:
"I actually didn't find out until this morning. I woke up, I guess it was around 6, saw it on my phone. I had some texts, and then, naturally, kinda Googled it to see what's going on, just to be honest. Saw that, I went over and told [Lawrence's wife] Marissa, 'Hey, this just happened. Going to be an interesting day at work.'"
Lawrence said he did not to speak with Khan at all Wednesday after meeting with the owner on his yacht Tuesday, and that he hasn't communicated with Meyer since the news dropped.
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin also said he found out that morning, via a team group text. A team meeting addressing the news followed.
Jaguars now trying to move on
Lawrence had plenty of kind words for Meyer, thanking the coach for drafting him and wishing him the best in the future, though he seemed to concede that he knew this whole situation is not normal:
"It's weird, different deal. Something I've never experienced. Some of the guys that were in Detroit, you know [Marvin Jones Jr.]. this is kinda similar to last year. For me, I think it brings a little bit of clarity to guys in the locker room. I wouldn't say relief, but I would say it just brings some clarity and some direction moving forward. We really want to go and finish this season strong and to be honest, it's been hard the last week with everything going on.
"There's a lot of things being stirred up, by the outside too, it didn't help. Made things a lot worse, but also everything that's going on, it's hard to stay focused and have all your attention and efforts going toward winning the game when there's so many things going on. I'm happy for the team that we have clarity and a sense of direction and we can just go be our best moving forward for the next four weeks."
Hours before Meyer was reported to have kicked Lambo, Lawrence had actually called for the team's ceaseless drama to end, something that very clearly did not happen. When asked about where the team's drama meter will be in the next week, Lawrence said "Somewhere a lot lower."
Griffin similarly said "relief" was not the right word to describe the team's mindset, offering "focused" as a better description.
When asked what he hopes to see from the team's next coach, Griffin's answer sure seemed to resemble the exact opposite of how Meyer had performed as an NFL head coach:
“I feel like this locker room needs a head coach that actually believes in what their players are saying, trusting that we can all make this work. This is not a one-man show. I feel like sometimes head coaches can come in and be like 'I'm gonna go in and flip it around. This is my way. Let’s do it.’ And sometimes they forget about us.
So for any head coach who decided to take on the job or whatever the case may be, trust your teammates. We can do this together. We can win together. This is a team effort. That would be my message: Let’s do it together as a team.”