The Jacksonville Jaguars' Urban Meyer Era Is Already a Disaster
One of the top storylines coming into the 2021 NFL season was how would Urban Meyer adapt to the NFL game. After only one week, we are already seeing a shift in attitude within the Jaguars organization, and Jacksonville might already be heading towards disaster.
With rumors circulating that Meyer is becoming "unhinged" and that people within the organization are having difficulties working with the college coaching legend, it appears that the transition has been much more difficult than imagined.
A Toxic History
It's no secret that Meyer has a long trail of controversy that follows him. In 2018, Meyer was suspended for three games while serving as the head coach at Ohio State. An investigation found that Meyer failed to report allegations of domestic abuse against assistant coach, Zach Smith. After the season, Meyer officially retired from coaching due to health concerns, again.
After the 2009 SEC championship loss to Alabama when he was the head coach at Florida, Meyer was rushed to the hospital with chest pains. He took some time off before returning to coach the team in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. He returned the following season and then retired after winning two national championships with the Gators.
Following his first retirement, a three-month investigation took place where former players were quoted as saying that Meyer created a toxic environment and would develop a "circle of trust" that was made up of only the star players. Other allegations include giving favorable treatment, hiding positive drug tests, and other shady things.
Trouble From The Jump
One of Meyer's first moves as the head coach of the Jaguars was to hire Chris Doyle, the longtime University of Iowa strength and conditioning coach as the director of sports performance in Jacksonville. In 2020, Iowa announced that it would be relieving Doyle of his position due to allegations from former players of racial mistreatment within the Iowa program, led by Doyle.
After immediate backlash, Doyle decided that he would resign from his new position in Jacksonville as to not be a distinction for the team. This was the first move that raised eyebrows within the organization, media, and fans.
The Tim Tebow Experience
One of the more puzzling moves was the Jaguars signing of Tim Tebow to battle for a tight end position. Meyer was Tebow's coach at Florida where they won two championships and Tebow would go on to win a Heisman trophy. Not only has Tebow never played tight end, but he also has not taken an NFL snap since 2012 when he was with the New York Jets, as a quarterback.
While Meyer has a proven record of loyalty to his former captains, the move angered and raised questions among those in the NFL community. They saw that this was not a serious move and that he was taking away a camp spot for a player that actually had a chance at making a team.
Not only did it not make much sense, it adds validity to the "circle of trust" rumors that have always followed Meyer. Tebow was cut following the Jaguars' first preseason game against the Browns.
Rising Red Flags
CBS Sports reported that multiple people around the league have identified some major red flags from Meyer this offseason.
“He has everyone looking over their shoulders already. He becomes unhinged way too easily, and he doesn’t know how to handle losing, even in the preseason," an anonymous source told CBS Sports. "He loses it and wants to take over the drills himself. It’s not good.”
One of the main concerns for Meyer in the NFL was his ability to adapt to coaching grown men, rather than student-athletes. When you are the head coach of the college program, you have full control. There is no union, there is no salary, there is only one ruler of the program. In the NFL, you don't have the same powers as you do in college. Coaches and players are both there to do a job.
Players in the NFL have more power than you would think. They control the team just as much as some of the personnel do. For a power-hungry coach like Meyer, that is only going to create a toxic environment. You cannot belittle players or coaches, that does not work in the NFL.
Week 1 Embarrassment
The Jaguars got thumped in Meyer's debut by the Houston Texans, a team that many thought could go winless in 2021. In the game, No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence threw 51 passes in his NFL debut. This was because they trailed for the majority of the game but you can just tell, Meyer just does not have what it takes. The offense was sloppy, the play calling was too flashy, and nothing seemed to work.
This is not to say that Meyer is a bad football coach, but he just does not have what it takes to make it in the NFL. He has never had to deal with the amount of losing that he will face in Jacksonville.
With six years remaining on his contract, it is unlikely that Meyer will be fired during the season. However, at this rate, he might not see a Year 2.
Photo: Getty Images