The college coaching legend only jumped to the NFL for the top quarterback prospect in decades. Now the pressure is really on.
There will be fairytales written in the coming days about Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars’ courtship of Urban Meyer once it became clear that the safest quarterback selection in four decades was headed to northern Florida. How they are on the same wavelength. How they mutually admired one another. How the coach understands the way to maximize an unreasonable amount of potential.
Left out, at least for now, is a question that we should all be asking of Meyer in general as he embarks upon a moment that will forever alter his legacy for better or worse: Why on earth would he sign up for this?
The same might be asked of Lawrence who, just a few weeks ago, admitted that he hoped to have a life beyond football one day and was shredded by the game’s old guard for a perceived indifference. This league is a machine that swallows talent whole and spits it out for no good reason. And Lawrence has a bigger target on his back than any player who has crossed the threshold from college to the NFL since John Elway.
Behind it all is Meyer, who left the cozy life of a broadcaster to prove that he could do something almost no other coach has done successfully—take the secret sauce that made him a successful coach at a different level, with a completely different set of rules and parameters, and apply that trade to a league that is wary of any NCAA intrusion and takes a deep pleasure in fending off anyone giving it a try.
With Lawrence, everything is magnified. The pressure to build a staff is greater. The pressure to construct a complementary roster is greater. The pressure to turn this into a Super Bowl is much, much greater. Most of it rests on the shoulders of a man in his mid-50s, who has left various jobs for health reasons, succeeding at the highest level while also paying a deep personal cost.
In that way, coaches are a rare breed. The lot of us would be content to ride out the circuit, accept a life’s worth of free drinks in every college town in the country and gloat about the three national championship rings—the kinds of things people couldn’t take away from you if you were fully and completely retired.
Instead, he is signing up for something that is nearly impossible. He is trying to align his flawless (on field, not off) college pedigree with a quarterback pegged to rewrite record books since the moment he stepped on a high school football field as a lanky, marketable blonde and started lighting defenses up.
In that way, it’s truly a fairytale. In the NFL, you cannot simply outwork fellow coaches and succeed. You cannot simply outgrease them. Outscheme them. Outwit them. There has to be a complete and total immersion and understanding of the way things work, and a willingness to bend and twist it at every turn to your advantage. In order for Lawrence and Meyer to meet our outsized expectations, we will truly have to see something from the coaching profession we have never witnessed before: a complete metamorphosis late in someone’s life, leading to something that 31 other crazed, trophy-hunting coaches haven’t thought of yet.
Because that’s the expectation, right? Super Bowls. Pro Bowls. Big things. Fairytales. And that’s what we’ll get until the moment Meyer has to toe the sideline and prove that it’s all possible.
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