Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer challenges WR DJ Chark to be 'big and strong'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When Jaguars coach Urban Meyer watched film of the 2020 season shortly after he was hired to get an idea about the talent on his roster, he didn't like what he saw from wide receiver DJ Chark.

Meyer expected a big, strong, physical receiver. That's not what he saw, which just wouldn't be good enough in 2021. And that is exactly what Meyer told him.

"I just didn't like his size. His strength, I just thought, was way below average, way below what we expect from our receivers, and he was told that," Meyer said. "He's a big guy that played little last year, and that can't happen. Guys like [Saints WR] Mike Thomas and [former Florida and NFL WR] Louis Murphy are those big, strong, fast receivers, and he's got to play big and strong."

Get in the weight room, Meyer told Chark. Get bigger and stronger because if you don't, you won't be able to help us. It might have been a hard thing to hear but Chark, who rebounded from a disappointing rookie year in 2018 to make the Pro Bowl in 2019, accepted it and started working.

Five months later, the 6-foot-4 Chark is seven pounds heavier -- now weighing 210 pounds -- and said he enjoys looking at the scale and seeing a bigger number as well as looking and feeling bigger.

"I love the challenge," Chark said. "I love talking to Coach Meyer. He's a competitor. He's going to push me.

"... But I love it, man. He'll push me to be better than what I am."

Chark caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019, becoming just the fifth player in franchise history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards despite struggles from quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. Last year, however, Chark missed three games because of injury and dealt with a sore shoulder and back the first part of the season. He caught 53 passes for 706 yards and five touchdowns and at times was visibly frustrated with the inconsistent quarterback play of Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton and Mike Glennon.

"I mean, we was 1-15. I don't think anybody played as well as we wanted to," Chark said. "Yeah, it wasn't my best at all. There were times where I let the circumstances get a little bit -- you know, control my output. I feel like if I'm going to be the guy I want to be, I've got to be that guy all the time."

Meyer said he was pleased to see how Chark embraced the pointed criticism.

"It tells you he's a smart player," Meyer said. "This whole world's about increasing someone's value, and DJ Chark can increase his value by getting bigger and stronger and playing that way. And he can also help us win. I mean, I love the fact there was no resistance. He acknowledged it, and [receivers coach] Sanjay [Lal] has been working with him. I love where he's at."

Chark should benefit from the additions of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. Jones will draw attention and won't allow opposing defenses to concentrate on stopping Chark, who said he sometimes struggled with that late in 2019 after he established himself as the team's top receiver.

Chark's goal is to always be better than 2020, he said.

"I definitely think I could be way better than what I was last year," he said. "That's definitely the floor for me the rest of my career. I won't be going back there."