NFL News: Meyer Out in Jax
Urban Meyer has been fired as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Let’s just call it what it is – the end of an error. Shahid Khan, the Jaguars’ billionaire owner, who hired Meyer back in January of this year, was smitten with the celebrated college coach despite him leaving Ohio State under less than ideal circumstances.
Earlier in the 2018 season, the university put him on paid administrative leave and subsequently suspended him for the first three games when an independent investigation concluded that Meyer knew about the spousal abuse allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith before he (Smith) was ultimately fired.
Meyer would return to see the Buckeyes end with a 12-1 record but they did not get selected to the College Football Playoff and Meyer would resign, citing health concerns. Perhaps he was concerned Ohio State would get sick of him.
Shortly before Khan hired Meyer, a prescient writer named Chris Korman of USA Today’s FTW, warned that Jacksonvillehiring Meyer would be a bad idea and wrote, “It’s still an awful idea. Meyer is the quintessential college coach, a smooth-talking salesman who built fiefdoms on football-mad campuses where he could get away with almost anything as long as his teams won.
“That approach won’t work in an NFL locker room, where players have actual power, or in a modern organization where a collaborative approach — one that includes input from a general manager, scouts, and analytics-minded researchers — is essential. Meyers has never shown the grace needed to work in that sort of environment. He much prefers to exist in his own reality, where he doles out accountability but never labors under it.”
Hammer meet nail. If you frequent any NFL forum then you know it is buzzing about Urban Meyer. It was evident early on when the Jaguars lost their first game of the year to the woeful Houston Texans that Meyer’s tenure as the Jags’ head coachwould be brief.
Ironically, they will face their division rivals again this week, sans Meyer, and the funny thing is the NFL odds at all of the best online sportsbooks have seen this line rise from Jacksonville -3 ½ to -5 once word broke that Meyer was ousted. That’s right, the oddsmakers believe the Jaguars are a better team without Meyer than with him and that sentiment is reflected in the line.
Jacksonville is 2-11 on the season and 4-9 against the point spread which means, despite the oddsmakers repeatedly making the Jaguars underdogs in all but their Week 1 loss to the Texans and this week’s rematch, they are still unable to compete with the rest of the league even when given a generous head start.
What’s Next for Jags?
Despite the shackles of a reported $10 million per annum contract over the next five years, Shahid Khan pulled the trigger and ended the misery for him, the franchise, and probably Meyer himself. How much he will have to pay on that contract will be adjudicated down the road. Khan can likely maneuver out of all or some of the team’s remaining financial obligations to Meyer by citing “cause”. Conversely, Meyer will respond that he never resigned, he was fired, and there was no cause because losing doesn’t fall into that sweeping category.
“After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban’s tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone,” owner Shad Khan said in a statement released early Thursday. “I informed Urban of the change this evening. As I stated in October, regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen.
“In the spirit of closure and recharging our players, staff, and fan base, I will not comment further until some point following the conclusion of the NFL season.”
But what Khan did accomplish by firing Meyer is, perhaps, save the future of his top draft choice, Trevor Lawrence. April’s No. 1 overall choice in the NFL Draft was reportedly at odds with his head coach and the deleterious effects of a poisoned locker room were manifesting behind closed doors and on the field. A fresh new voice and change of direction could salvage his formative years in the league and put him back on track to be the superstar many believed he would be at the next level.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as Meyer’s replacement and assume the role of interim head coach for the remainder of the season while Jags’ GM, Trent Baalke, will also maintain his post for the time being, at least.
The only thing the Jaguars are doing after the regular-season ends is making vacation plans. They are a hot mess now but the NFL allows the weak sisters to build rather quickly through choice draft picks.
Whether Jacksonville can effectuate a new direction after 10 years of ineptitude, save for one season, under Khan’s stewardship is dubious. But Khan has billions in the bank and no one to report to, except the fans, which means he will stay as long as he likes. And that might just be the worst news yet for the Jacksonville faithful.