It is truly out with the old and in with the new in Jacksonville. Several returning players, including impressive running back James Robinson, may now have to fight for snaps and recognition under a new regime. Unfortunately for several longtime Jaguars employees, their time to prove their case has already passed.
Urban Meyer and the Jaguars fired several staff members
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan hired Urban Meyer to revamp the roster and culture of one of the NFL’s longest-suffering franchises. The changes are still coming even after the team used the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
According to ESPN, the Jaguars fired four longtime staff members who worked in the scouting and personnel department. On May 4, the Jaguars relieved Andy Dengler (assistant director of player personnel), Chris Driggers (director of pro personnel), Mark Ellenz (director of college scouting), and Paul Roell (assistant director of college scouting) of their duties.
The group of four had a combined 66 years of experience with the Jaguars organization. Driggers was one of six remaining staff members who joined the Jaguars in 1994, a year before the team began playing games.
Post-draft firings aren’t uncommon in the NFL
The idea of firing staff members days after the NFL draft may sound strange, but it’s not as infrequent as some might think.
The Buffalo Bills fired Doug Whaley on April 30, 2017, only a day after that year’s draft ended. It is worth noting that Buffalo selected three players — cornerback Tre’Davious White, guard Dion Dawkins, and linebacker Matt Milano — who have been starters over the last four seasons.
White earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2019 and appeared on the second team in 2020. He is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s top shutdown corners.
The then-Oakland Raiders sent all their scouts home ahead of the 2019 NFL draft. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said that he fired three scouts after the draft ended.
These changes often happen either in the first or second year of a new regime. Whaley lost his job only months after the Bills hired Sean McDermott as their head coach.
Meyer and the Jaguars are continuing the rebuild
Barring any sudden changes, whatever the Jaguars do in the Lawrence and Meyer era will be without those four longtime staffers.
That is apparently fine for Meyer, who is attempting to rebuild the Jaguars in his own image. Some of those moves, including drafting Lawrence, have the potential to work out. Then there’s the failed Chris Doyle hire that Meyer likely wants to keep buried under the rug.
At this point, Meyer has an idea of what he wants the Jaguars to look like with him in control. Whether the team will become an AFC playoff contender, however, is yet to be determined.