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#pounditSaturday, September 24, 2022

Urban Meyer

Jaguars’ stance on Urban Meyer revealed amid latest controversy

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer’s status with the Jacksonville Jaguars is once again in some question amid reports that surfaced Saturday. However, nothing appears to have changed from ownership’s perspective.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan intends to “stay the course” with Meyer, according to ESPN. That stance comes in spite of reports of extreme tension between Meyer and his players and coaches.

The Jaguars don’t have to make a change right now. While terms of Meyer’s contract aren’t publicly available, it’s safe to assume he’s making upwards of $10 million per year. That would be a very expensive deal to move on from, and the Jaguars won’t be eager to do so less than a year into the contract.

Khan may also be reluctant to move on from Meyer because he’d have to admit failure on a hire he was immensely proud of.

Report names surprise candidate as Jaguars’ potential Urban Meyer replacement

Urban Meyer

There is once again real talk of Urban Meyer lasting just one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If a change is made, there may be a surprise candidate waiting in the wings to take over.

Jaguars assistant coach Charlie Strong has emerged as an in-house favorite to take over as head coach if Meyer is fired, according to Jason La Canfora. General manager Trent Baalke is said to be particularly high on Strong, who is said to have adapted well to the NFL and has the respect of players and coaches.

Strong is a familiar name at the college level. The 61-year-old has served as head coach at Louisville, Texas, and South Florida, posting a 74-53 record overall. However, he had no NFL coaching experience prior to joining Meyer’s staff in Jacksonville.

Given how badly things are going for Meyer, it would be surprising to see the Jaguars go with another untested college coach to replace him. That said, the team might just want someone to smooth things over and be a bit more friendly with the players at this point.

Old Shad Khan quote about hiring Urban Meyer goes viral

Shad Khan smiling

The Jacksonville Jaguars are dealing with more embarrassing Urban Meyer news, and it’s even brought owner Shad Khan under scrutiny.

Meyer was the subject of a very unflattering report that came out early Saturday detailing numerous clashes with players and staff. Notably, Meyer reportedly called his assistant coaches “losers” and challenged them to defend their credentials during one staff meeting.

The social media reaction to the Meyer story was swift. Some on Twitter used the opportunity to bring back a Khan quote from last April about how confident he was in the Meyer hire.

Obviously, the remark has not aged well. It was bad enough in October when Meyer and the Jaguars were dealing with the fallout from a different scandal. At that time, Khan put out a scathing statement about how disappointed he was in Meyer’s judgment.

Meyer’s tenure in Jacksonville looks like it might be short-lived. Khan’s excitement at landing him was understandable, but the risks were high considering Meyer had not coached at the NFL level before. Right now, Meyer looks in over his head and unwilling to adapt. Unless that changes, Khan is going to have to answer for this quote much sooner than he ever would have hoped.

Photo: Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan (Shahid Khan) watches from the sidelines during an NFL International Series game against the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Urban Meyer involved in multiple confrontations with players and staff

Urban Meyer in a Jaguars jacket

Urban Meyer appears to have completely lost the backing of players and even staff as the losses mount for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tensions have boiled over between Meyer and his players and staff, according to Tom Pelissero of Meyer’s style has led to clashes with numerous members of the roster, with detractors viewing him as condescending.

Meyer has reportedly had three notable run-ins with players and staff in the last two weeks alone. At one point, veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones became so angry with Meyer’s criticism of the receiver group that he stormed out of practice and left the team facility after an argument with Meyer and had to be coaxed back by assistant coaches. Meyer also challenged his assistant coaches during a meeting, calling them “losers” and challenging them to explain what they have ever won.

Contrary to Meyer’s public denials, it was the head coach who benched running back James Robinson after a fumble in last week’s loss to the Rams, Pelissero says. Meyer prevented Robinson from re-entering the game until he was confronted on the sideline by quarterback Trevor Lawrence about Robinson’s benching. Lawrence publicly questioned his coaches over the benching after the game.

Jaguars players openly vented to Rams players after that loss, with the common complaint being that Meyer simply does not treat them like adults.

All of this comes after Meyer’s embarrassing viral video incident following a Week 4 loss to Cincinnati. Even then, there was talk that he had lost the locker room. His methods that worked in college are not translating to the NFL, and he has not adapted despite a 2-10 record and ongoing issues with players.

By all accounts, Meyer remains committed to seeing things through with the Jaguars. However, it is becoming clear that he is unaccustomed to this much losing and unwilling to adapt his methods to NFL players. Those factors may ensure a very short tenure in Jacksonville at this rate.

Photo: Joseph Maiorana-USA Today Sports

Trevor Lawrence calls out Jaguars coaches over James Robinson benching

Trevor Lawrence celebrates

James Robinson has been one of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ best players over the past two seasons, but some recent issues with ball security have resulted in him being benched for extended periods. Trevor Lawrence clearly does not agree with the disciplinary action.

Lawrence voiced his support for Robinson on Wednesday and told reporters the running back needs to be on the field as much as possible. The rookie quarterback said he expressed his concerns to Jacksonville’s coaching staff.

“Bottom line is James is one of our best players and he’s got to be on the field and we addressed it, and I feel like we’re in a good spot and the whole team, we’re good,” Lawrence said, per ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. “Whatever may have happened, I honestly don’t even know everything that went into it.”

Lawrence added that he does not to meddle in coaching decisions during the game. He did, however, express his displeasure in Robinson not being on the field at times over the past two weeks.

Robinson sat for 20 consecutive plays after he fumbled against the Los Angeles Rams last weekend. He was benched for 16 straight plays when he lost a fumble against the Atlanta Falcons the week before. Carlos Hyde also fumbled against L.A., but he was back on the field on Jacksonville’s next drive.

Urban Meyer said he doesn’t micromanage the decisions of his assistant coaches during games but that he will become more involved going forward. The head coach seemed to agree with benching Robinson, though.

“If you lay the ball on the ground and you come out for a few plays, and then it’s up to the position coach and whatever to put you back in whenever that’s time,” Meyer said. “And that’s not (just) James. That’s whomever. When the ball goes on the ground, you come (out).”

Robinson has averaged 4.6 yards per carry through his first two NFL seasons. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last season and has 678 this year. He has also scored seven rushing touchdowns this year, which matches his total from 2020.

You can understand why Lawrence wants Robinson on the field, but it’s somewhat surprising that a rookie quarterback publicly criticized his coaching staff on behalf of a teammate. That’s not going to do anything to change the perception that Meyer has had some locker room issues in his first season with the Jags.

Photo: Oct 10, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) gestures after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Report sheds light on Urban Meyer’s future with Jaguars

Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer has once again found himself at the center of the college coaching rumor mill, but apparently the Jacksonville Jaguars do not need to be concerned.

Meyer has no interest in taking another college coaching job, ESPN’s Michael DiRocco reports. The 57-year-old remains committed to the Jaguars and trying to build them into a contender.

Meyer is linked to most major college coaching jobs no matter what his situation is at the time they become vacant. That happened once again this week when Brian Kelly left Notre Dame for LSU, and you can understand why.

There is plenty of reason to believe Meyer would have interest in coaching the Fighting Irish. He described Notre Dame as his “dream job” over a decade ago. As recently as 2017, Meyer’s wife Shelly said coaching at Notre Dame would be one of her husband’s dream jobs.

Taking the Notre Dame job would be the perfect way for Meyer to leave the NFL, as he could point to the fact that he has openly admitted he would love to coach there. However, the stench from Meyer’s unflattering scandal in Jacksonville has already worn off. He may genuinely want to see things through, even if his “dream” college job is now available.

Would Urban Meyer leave NFL for Notre Dame job?

Urban Meyer in a Jaguars jacket

Speculation immediately began on Monday regarding whom Notre Dame might look to after Brian Kelly’s shocking departure. One name came up more than any other: Urban Meyer.

Meyer is inevitably linked to most big college football jobs that open up, but the Notre Dame position is different. Like most big programs, the Fighting Irish have the resources to attract and pay a big name. For Meyer, however, there’s a personal angle to the Notre Dame job.

As long ago as 2008, Meyer, who was then coaching Florida, described the Notre Dame position as a “dream job.”

It wasn’t a one-off thing, either. In 2017, Meyer’s wife Shelley told “The Eleven Dubcast” podcast that Meyer had laid out three dream jobs when the couple first got together. One was Ohio State, which Meyer ultimately held from 2012 to 2018. Another was Michigan, which is no longer a consideration. The other was Notre Dame.

We already know, then, that Meyer has had strong feelings about Notre Dame. We also know that he’s struggled in his first year in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s had to deal with a very unflattering scandal. At least at certain points, he has not appeared to have the respect of his locker room.

If Meyer wants an out from the NFL, the Notre Dame job would represent the perfect opportunity. The Fighting Irish would likely want him, but even with his recent scandal in mind, there is nobody else potentially available with Meyer’s resume at the college level. One has to wonder if his position with Jacksonville is even all that secure.

If Meyer were to leave the NFL so quickly and after one bad season, he would have to endure that criticism and blemish on his resume. That happened to Nick Saban in Miami, but Saban has mostly rendered the label forgotten with his immense success at Alabama.

Meyer is already a controversial figure and might never be able to shake that reputation, even if he wins a lot at Notre Dame. That said, if he were ever going to be lured back to college football, this is probably the opportunity that would do it.

Photo: Joseph Maiorana-USA Today Sports

Urban Meyer shares his reaction to Dan Mullen firing

Urban Meyer in a Jaguars jacket

Urban Meyer shared his reaction Sunday to the Dan Mullen firing.

Mullen is a longtime disciple of Meyer, having coached on Urban’s staffs at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. Mullen eventually became the head coach at Florida for four seasons before being fired on Sunday.

Meyer, who left Florida after coaching there from 2005-2010, reacted to the Mullen news with surprise. The current Jacksonville Jaguars head coach said he didn’t see the Mullen firing coming.

Neither did most people, Urban. Sure, there were rumors once Florida slipped further this season, but the firing seems beyond unjustified.

Mullen was 34-15 at Florida and went 2-1 in bowl games. His performance was very strong, but apparently the Gators have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to midseason losing records, regardless of how well the coach has performed otherwise.

H/T The Spun
Photo: Joseph Maiorana-USA Today Sports

Urban Meyer doubles down on high expectations for Jaguars

Urban Meyer Jags

Things have not gone well for the Jacksonville Jaguars so far this season, but Urban Meyer does not want to hear any excuses.

The first-year head coach made a clear statement on Monday about his expectations for the remainder of the season. He said the Jaguars’ play at this point cannot be chalked up to a new system or a rookie quarterback in Trevor Lawrence.

In short, Meyer doesn’t want to hear excuses. Considering the team is 1-5, it’s fair to read this as a criticism of their play so far. Meyer definitely isn’t grading on a curve.

Jaguars players seem to have found some other reasons to blame for their struggles this year. That won’t stop Meyer from maintaining some expectations that border on ridiculous. With upcoming games against the Bills and Colts, it won’t be easy.

5 biggest surprises of the 2021 NFL season thus far

Jon Gruden

The 2021 NFL regular season is now in Week 7 — boy, does it go by fast — and to say there have been a few surprises that stand out would be an understatement.

Things got off to a fast start league-wide and have not slowed down one bit. Whether it’s on the field or off of the field, the NFL is jam-packed with excitement, drama, and theater.

Here is a look at the five biggest surprises of the 2021 season (so far).

5. Kansas City Chiefs being average

Everything that goes up must eventually come down. The Chiefs are currently living that reality. They’ve split their first six games this season. At 3-3, they find themselves in third place in the AFC West (more on that division to come). But beyond just the .500 record, several of their superstar players are underperforming. Case in point: quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The former league MVP already has nine turnovers on the season, three shy of his career high. He has four interceptions over the past two games combined (don’t tell his mom). The Chiefs’ -8 turnover ratio is the second-worst in football. Defensively, KC is also allowing over 410 yards per game and an average of 29.3 points per game. Each of those marks are among the bottom five in the NFL.

4. Derek Carr an early MVP candidate

The Raiders decided to let Derek Carr air it out this season, and his aggression has gone through the roof. Yes, Carr has made some risky throws, and his accuracy is nothing to write home about, but he’s second in the NFL with 1,946 yards and 324.3 yards per game. Carr is also in the top half of the league in touchdown passes (10) and has tossed just four interceptions despite the new chuck-and-duck style. Perhaps more importantly, the Raiders are 4-2 under Carr, are tied for the AFC West lead, and three of their victories have come over teams who won 10-plus games in 2020. Whether or not Carr can keep up this pace remains to be seen, but few saw this start coming.

3. Myles Garrett gunning for all-time records

Through seven weeks, Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett has amassed a league-leading eight sacks and is on pace for 23.0, which would be an all-time single-season record. And given how dominant Garrett has been this season, it’s entirely possible that Michael Strahan’s long-standing record finally falls. What makes Garrett’s early-season performance so impressive is that he’s dominating as much against the run as he is the pass. And when he does get home, he finishes. His eight sacks come alongside 17 QB hits and seven hurries, and are coupled with an equally impressive 24 tackles (nine for a loss).

2. Giants defense in shambles

Entering the 2021 regular-season, most believed the Giants would be kept afloat by their defense, which surprised under Patrick Graham a year ago. That has not at all been the case. In fact, the offense has outplayed the defense thus far. Graham’s unit, which plays Cover 2 more than any other team in the league, has taken several steps back. They have been unable to generate any natural pressure. Even when attempting to scheme in pressure, they haven’t hit home. The lack of pressure has allowed opposing quarterbacks to light up their secondary, including cornerback James Bradberry, who was a Pro Bowler in 2020. Not only will this regression take a toll on the organization, it might also cost Graham potential head coaching interest in 2022.

1. Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden

The situations surrounding Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden are very different but equally shocking. Meyer, of course, drew heavy criticism for staying behind in Ohio after his team lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4, only to later be caught on video acting inappropriately with a woman who wasn’t his wife (more here). He survived being fired (or divorced) but it’s certainly an early stain on his NFL career. Gruden, on the other hand, did not survive comments he made in private emails years ago. During an investigation into the Washington Football Team, several Gruden emails containing some ugly comments were discovered. He was immediately canceled, resigned as Raiders head coach, and was removed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor, where he had previously sat alongside Warren Sapp and others.