Former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum held numerous high-profile positions in four different NFL franchises and is a respected voice on the inner-workings of the league.
Black and Teal recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the current ESPN Insider in an interview, and Tannenbaum was kind enough to discuss the Jacksonville Jaguars’ potential under new head coach Urban Meyer and with Trevor Lawrence (presumably) at the helm.
He also dove into the details of the Jaguar’s biggest areas of need and the importance of free agency for Jacksonville. Additionally, he gave us some insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact league operations.
Tannenbaum was the architect behind the New York Jets’ back-to-back AFC Championship appearances in 2009 and 2010. He also spent time with the Miami Dolphins as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations and helped hire general manager Chris Grier and head coach Adam Gase in 2016.
Black and Teal’s interview with Mike Tannenbaum on the Jaguars
B&T: This offseason feels more crucial than some in the past for several reasons. More specifically, it is very important the Jaguars treat this offseason right for the sake of their future.
How do you think the hiring of Urban Meyer has changed the gravity of drafting Trevor Lawrence for the Jaguars? I’m guessing the conversation over how he can develop into a franchise quarterback is different now than if Doug Marrone were still the head coach in Jacksonville.
MT: I obviously think that Coach Meyer— one of the many reasons this was an attractive job for him was having a chance to coach somebody like Trevor Lawrence and I think they will be a great match together.
I think Trevor Lawrence’s athleticism is so underrated when you think about the plays he can make with his feet and when you go back and look at what Coach Meyer did at Bowling Green or Utah, Florida, Ohio State, his quarterbacks tend to be athletic— Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, among many others. I think Trevor Lawrence really fits that bill.
B&T: This offseason, the Titans lost their offensive coordinator to a head coaching job, the Texans organization has been a bit of a mess, the Colts got themselves a new quarterback in Carson Wentz, and the Jaguars have had a dramatic change all around.
How do you think these recent changes within the AFC South change the outlook on this next season?
MT: Short-term I still like Tennessee a lot. I’ve always been a big believer in Ryan Tannehill and signed him to a big extension in Miami. He’s played exceptionally well in Tennessee. And I’d put them in the short-term to be the odds-on favorite.
Obviously, if Deshaun Watson plays in Houston that could change things. And I love Trevor Lawrence long-term, but the only thing that I think’s going to be tough with Urban now coaching in the NFL and no offseason program, I think that will take a little time.
B&T: While you weren’t with the team in 2019- what I found interesting was the similarities between the 2019 Dolphins team and the 2020 Jaguars team. They both had multiple 1st round picks, were expecting a rookie quarterback to come in and led the league in total active players throughout the season.
The Dolphins made a pretty significant turnaround in 2020 and the Jaguars’ is yet to be seen. What do you think are the most crucial aspects of turning a franchise around?
MT: Well, I think surely the consistency of quarterback play- you know Gardner Minshew at times flashed really good play and it starts there. I think the offensive line— they just franchised Cam Robinson—Cam Robinson has been a pretty inconsistent player but he’s young and I’m sure they think they can get him better, but they have to fortify the offensive line.
We saw what happened in Cincinnati a year ago where you have a great young quarterback in Joe Burrow and a bad offensive line and obviously, things did not go well for him, he got hurt. So I think those are really going to be the keys for the Jaguars.
B&T: What do you think are the most crucial positions for the Jaguars to target in free agency? Are there any players that have to be on their radar?
MT: Well I think you know pass rush- they need another pass rusher- maybe Bud Dupree from Pittsburgh and Carl Lawson from Cincinnati would be two guys they could possibly target.
B&T: We saw last season was heavily impacted by the pandemic and we’re over a year into it. How different do you think it will impact this next season for NFL players?
MT: Yeah, I think we’ll see a new offseason program for sure. Where it will be a lot more virtual than in-person. In terms of training camp, hopefully, we’ll be back to normal—maybe there will be one preseason game… Hopefully, more people will be vaccinated, we’ll get to herd immunity, and hopefully, that we will have for the regular season.