The former three-time college football national champion coach is taking a survival-of-the-fittest approach to cutting down his roster from 90 to 53 players.
Meyer is pitting his players against each other in one-on-one drills to help his staff determine who should make the Jaguars’ final roster this year. They are calling it “Winners and Losers Day,” and the first one took place last Wednesday.
Urban Meyer believes in one-on-one competiton
Meyer spoke with ESPN’s Michael DiRocco last week about the idea behind the one-on-one battles in training camp.
“A big roster’s going to go to a smaller roster, and I think to be fair to players — we all have so much respect [and] this is a way guys make a living — I don’t believe in subjectivity,” Meyer said. “I believe in, what’s your record? Every man’s got a record. What is it? You are what your record [is]. If you lose a lot but you have a lot of potential, that’s not real good. . . . Just over the course of my career, I can give you example after example [of players who] maybe they’re a little slow, but they just never lose.”
The rookie NFL head coach won’t decide roster spots solely on “Winners and Losers Day” activities but it will be a factor in choosing between closely matched players.
“Well, I haven’t done that before [used it to determine cuts],” Meyer said. “This is going to be the first [time]. But I’ve had to make decisions on who starts, and it’s not fair to players to say, Well, I’m starting [you] because I like you, or because you’re from Ohio. It’s just: Here’s the stats. They say statistics are for losers, and my comment is usually losers say statistics are for losers. So you’ve got a record. What’s your record? How’s it going? I just think that’s a complete mentality. That Tom Brady guy, his record’s really good. You move him to the Buccaneers, it’s really good. New England Patriots, really good.”
Will this practice technique work in the pros?
Urban Meyer started using the one-on-one contest in his second year at Florida in 2007. That season ended with the Gators winning the national title.
He used the same practice idea at Ohio State, where he again won a national championship. Meyer's "survival of the fittest" mantra has a clear track record of success in college, but will it transfer to the NFL?
Jaguars players don’t seem to have a problem with the new training method.
Defensive end Dawuane Smoot and wide receiver Laviska Shenault both told ESPN they didn't mind hearing the coaches announce the winners after each rep. Smoot even went so far as to say that it's motivating the players.
"I feel like it definitely just keeps that competitive spirit going," Smoot said. "We're all trying to hear our own name on the [public-address system] anyways out there on the big field, so just hearing it out on the practice field, it's great."
Only time will tell if Urban Meyer's one-on-one training camp battles transfer to NFL victories during the regular season. As things stand, the rookie head coach has his work cut out for him in the big leagues.