'Alignment' between Urban Meyer, GM Trent Baalke key to success of Jacksonville Jaguars' rebuild

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Urban Meyer spent just a week with Trent Baalke after being hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars' new head coach, but that apparently was enough time for Meyer to feel good about partnering with Baalke to start the franchise's rebuild.

Meyer said the conversations the two had quickly showed that Baalke was on board with the way Meyer wanted to conduct the rebuild and that the two shared some of the same ideas.

"I've been very fortunate in my entire head coaching career, I've always looked at everything that I've done as a partnership, whether it be athletic directors, whether it be just people we work with," Meyer said. "I can't imagine spending more time with someone in the last few days, really the last week or so, than Trent. Really impressed.

"Alignment is going to be a big word that I know our owner, Shad [Khan], is going to use, Trent and myself. It's going to be a partnership and we're going to be aligned."

Alignment was certainly the buzzword on Thursday. Meyer, Baalke and Khan used the word or derivatives of the word 11 times in a 22-minute virtual news conference. It's just another way of saying everyone is on the same page when it comes to what they're looking for in players, coaches, scouts, style of play, draft picks, how things should be structured, etc.

Baalke has more experience than Meyer on the NFL level, having been the GM in San Francisco from 2011 to '16 and having worked in scouting and personnel in the NFL since 1998, and will be a big help as Meyer navigates his first NFL season. Baalke said they share the same ideas of the best way to turn around a franchise that has lost 10 or more games in nine of the past 10 seasons.

"If you are not aligned and you don't think the same and you don't have the same vision, I think regardless of whether you have been here or not been here, you are going to run into problems," Baalke said. "The thing that I am very confident in is Coach Meyer and the vision he brings to this organization, as well as ownership. And I think the results will speak for themselves. But we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Inevitably, though, there will be disagreements, and based on what Khan said last week when introducing Meyer as the franchise's sixth head coach -- they're taking a coach-centric approach and he and the GM have to "support that mission" -- the final decision will be Meyer's. But on Thursday, Meyer deflected a question about who really does have final say.

"Shad's got a huge say in this as well. Any decision like this, I do look at it as a partnership and alignment's going to be the key," Meyer said. "How you do that? Debate is healthy. Debate is strong. I encourage debate, whether it's when you're game planning or you're putting your roster or recruiting, whatever it may be. Shad and I have had great conversation. So has with Trent.

"Who will actually have it [the final say]? I'm not that worried about that. I know that we are tied at the hip and alignment's going to be the key."