It’s not easy to be an elite NFL coach. Many former professional players and college coaches have tried to make this step but failed miserably. In 2021, Urban Meyer took over as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Instantly, the football world sat up and reached for their buckets of popcorn.
With his .854 win percentage (via Sporting Reference), Meyer enjoyed extraordinary success at the college level. He led the Florida Gators and the Ohio Buckeyes to glory but attracted a lot of negativity along the way. That’s why many critics believe that he’ll fail spectacularly in the NFL. Let’s take a look at 20 reasons why this will be the case.
20. Urban Meyer Simply Brings Chaos
It’s not fair to say that Meyer causes problems everywhere he goes, but chaos seems t0 follow him nonetheless. In 2010, he walked out on Florida after the Gators went into meltdown. Over six seasons there were 30 players arrests as well as a lockerroom drug problem (via Bleacher Report). The old mantra says that boys will be boys, but that’s taking it a little too far.
Then there were accusations of roster manipulation. Meyer also departed Ohio State with a cloud over his head. This was after his assistant coach Zach Smith’s domestic abuse record came to light. Of course, Smith cast a stain on Meyer by association. The head coach knew about the allegations but kept them quiet and didn’t discipline Smith.
Nobody knows why Meyer thought that 2021 was a good time to hire Chris Doyle as his Director of Sports Performance. First, Doyle had no NFL experience. He spent his entire 20-year career with the University of Iowa before accepting the Jaguars’ job offer. But things became worse very quickly.
Allegations of bullying and even player abuse surrounded Doyle like flies around a piece of rotten meat. For some reason, Meyer still walked over to the buffet and put him on his plate. Social tensions were rife throughout the league and the United States at the time so this was a terrible decision. Doyle lasted a single day before a humiliated Meyer fired him (via Yahoo! Sports).
When Meyer hired Doyle. he didn’t think there would be any problems. After a long and distinguished college career, he believed that he could do what he wanted without questions. Unfortunately for Meyer, that’s not the reality of the NFL. The media will question everything he does, even if it seems to be positive. So far he’s flopped with two of his most high-profile decisions.
The Associated Press reported that he defended his decision to hire Doyle by saying that he knew him for 20 years. The head coach also pointed to the vetting process that saw the owner Shahid Khan approve the appointment. Meyer’s controversies attracted attention when he was in charge of Florida and Ohio. This will be even more intense now that he’s on the biggest stage of them all.
What was the point of bringing Tim Tebow back? All it did was attract derisive headlines. In fact, The Guardian even called it NFL cronyism at its very worst. Tebow was a Heisman winner under Meyer’s tutelage at Florida. It’s natural for them to have a close relationship but it’s also ridiculous to think that Tebow was going to make an impact.
The idea of converting him to a tight end came about eight years too late. Tebow took up a place on the practice roster and enjoyed minutes that would have benefited a younger player. Meanwhile, it wasn’t even entertaining to watch. It was just a sad and poor indictment on Meyer. He made the decision not to give him a roster spot but lost face anyway.
Meyer is a serial winner at the college level while the Jaguars are one of the NFL’s most pathetic franchises, if not the worst. What happens when an immovable force meets an unbreakable object? It’s going to be entertaining to find out. Tom Coughlin is the only former Jaguars’ coach with a franchise-winning record. He led them to the best four years of their history (via Clutchpoints).
The Jaguars achieved double-divisional success under his charge. But since 2002, they only made the postseason on three occasions. Jack Del Rio achieved this twice while Doug Marrone helped them win the AFC South in 2017. However, the culture around the Jaguars stinks. Meyer is up against it as he tries to turn this team around.
Anybody expecting instant results could be in for a rude awakening. Their most recent 1-15 season was miserable by the standards of any franchise. Weirdly enough though, fans felt a sense of achievement at the end of the semester because they beat the Jets to Trevor Lawrence. But the fact remains that their run of 14 straight losses was the worst in Jaguars’ history (via Sports Illustrated). That’s not going away.
Meyer will try to pick up the pieces and put them back together again. However, he is under weird pressure because of the expectation levels. Lawrence is both a blessing and a curse because he has to get him delivering quickly. Meanwhile, he lost his other first-round hope, running back Travis Etienne, for the year. It’s not going to be easy and Meyer is unproven in this kind of situation.
The Jaguars know that Jacksonville isn’t a great market. NBC continues to link the Jags with a move to London, making them the first overseas NFL franchise. They will play the Miami Dolphins in London’s Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium on October 17. Some analysts believe that this is a test run for a future move because of the franchise’s close links to the city.
Jags owner Shahid Khan is also the owner of Fulham FC, an English soccer club based in the U.K. capital. If the Jaguars leave Jacksonville they will instantly become the most talked-about franchise in the NFL. Meyer must prove himself before any potential move because overseas fans will want to get behind a proven winner. That’s a lot of pressure.
Meyer must live with fact that NFL fans outside of Jacksonville want him to fail. Robert Saleh received a lot of positivity when he joined the Jets. Meanwhile, Dan Campbell may fail miserably in Detroit but he’s entertaining a lot of people along the way. NFL writer John Romano (Tampa Bay Times) called Meyer one of the three most divisive coaches in the nation.
He listed him alongside Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. These coaches are proven winners at their respective levels but they’re also villainous figures. Meyer’s unsettling combination of arrogance and his links to problematic figures make him easy to dislike. Of course, the Jags fans will be behind him and that’s what counts. But he’s going to feel the heat.
Meyer’s supporters point to his successes but they don’t say much about the negative effects that he had on the Florida program. Yes, the results were exceptional but they came at a cost. Sporting News investigated the negative culture that he created in the Gators locker room. We already talked about the 30 arrests, but this was just one part of a seedy underbelly.
Future NFL murderer Aaron Hernandez received a marijuana-linked suspension under Meyer’s influence. Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs chose Maryland over Florida because of Meyer’s dubious reputation. The general consensus is that Meyer doesn’t hold his players to high personal standards if they repay him by performing well on the playing field.
The new Jacksonville head coach achieved success at the college level because he was able to manipulate young minds. He won’t be able to do this with a roster of millionaires. One question is why didn’t any other NFL franchise pick him up? After all, Meyer sat on the sidelines for two years before the Jaguars decided to gamble on him.
But that’s exactly why no other NFL team wants him. It is a gamble. USA Today revealed how Meyer makes his players feel like they’re walking on eggshells. However, they have impressionable minds and their futures are at stake. If a coach dislikes them then this can be the difference between them becoming millionaires or not. NFL players just won’t tolerate this.
Even respected NFL analysts aren’t convinced by Meyer. Pete Prisco made the point that there’s a big difference between recruiting youngsters to a school and trying to build an NFL roster (via FOX Sports). There were even accusations of favoritism and roster manipulation during all three of his college head coach tenures. But this won’t fly at the professional level.
Arguably, Meyer’s first season may be his easiest because the 2020 season was so bad. All he has to do is win a couple of games and he will have achieved more. But of course, the front office will want to see a real project in motion. And if he achieves success then he’s going to have to learn how to play the draft. There’s so much for him to wrap his head around.
Questions remain over Meyer’s temperament and if he has the mentality to be an NFL coach. This may seem ludicrous because of his consistent college successes, but those wins came with a cost. Meyer has an obsessive personality and suffered from mental health struggles over the years (via Deseret News). He has retired three times already and this rings alarm bells.
While his first retirement lasted for a single day, the other two were related to stress and scandal. Meyer isn’t going to find it any easier in professional football because he has millions of eyes watching him. Moreover, he has never coached an NFL quarterback before so it may not even be the right move. Let’s hope that he can physically stand the pressure.
Some analysts believe that the Jags are dark horses for a playoff spot in 2021. However, they are realistically fighting for second place in the AFC South. Realistically, the Tennessee Titans should run away with this division. They’ve added Julio Jones to a ludicrous offense with Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones. In fact, they could be Super Bowl contenders themselves (via USA TODAY Sports).
The Texans are a mess and maybe the worst team in the league. Then, there are the Colts. They brought in Carson Wentz and have an excellent defense. If Meyer can get his team into gear quickly there is a chance of a very positive season. But if they start badly, critics will say he wasted a great opportunity.
Meyer has a fantastic winning record with Ohio State. He led the team to an 83-9 record with a national championship and three Big Ten titles. That’s incredible but there’s one problem. Meyer isn’t accustomed to losing. In fact, Paul Finebaum believes that this is why the new Jags coach will ultimately fail. He thinks that Meyer will self-destruct (via The Spun).
The ESPN analyst described Meyer as one of the worst losers that he has ever seen. While it’s essential to have a winning mentality, it’s also important to be pragmatic. Jacksonville is rebuilding after a 1-15 season. There’s no way that Meyer will instill his philosophy with an instant effect. It remains to be seen if Meyer can handle a team that expects to lose.
Carlos Hyde reunited with Meyer after a frustrating 2020 season with the Seattle Seahawks. The veteran running back played for his new head coach at Ohio State from 2010-13 (via The Florida Times-Union). Hyde spent most of his NFL career as a backup but he’s enjoyed a lot of football so far under Meyer. The coach even used him instead of star rookie Travis Etienne, before the latter injured himself.
Everybody respects loyalty but some are questioning if this is misplaced. The Jaguars used Hyde as the second back off the bench but without great effect. They even tried a toss play that didn’t come off but would have suited Etienne’s style perfectly. Now, the rookie is out for the season so they’re stuck with Hyde regardless. It’s a strange situation but one of Meyer’s making.
Speaking of Hyde, the running back is no stranger to controversy. During his Ohio State days, he received a three-game suspension for domestic violence (via ESPN). He avoided legal punishments but his school hit him with a short ban after bringing their program into disrepute. While this was a tough punishment, Meyer had no choice because of criticism he attracted for previous light penalties.
It’s also worth noting that the Buckeyes had a strong running corps at the time. Meyer was happy to bring his star back into the fold after the suspension and maintained a connection with him over the years. Clearly, as fans saw with the Chris Doyle fiasco, he doesn’t care about character flaws as long as they give him what he wants on the playing field.
The Jaguars played the Browns and the Saints in their first two preseason games under Meyer but failed to achieve a single touchdown drive (via Sporting News). Meanwhile, they lost their rookie running back Travis Etienne after he suffered a Lisfranc injury against New Orleans. It’s not been the smoothest start for Meyer and his coaching staff but they have to turn things around quickly.
After a miserable 1-15 season, nobody expected the Jaguars to become immediate contenders. But Meyer received a lot of support this summer and needs to capitalize on it. Finding offensive solutions will be an important part of their hopes of winning games. Unfortunately, the early signs aren’t good because they look like a team without an identity.
There’s no doubt that Meyer’s fate rests in his rookie quarterback’s hands. The former Clemson star is arguably the most-hyped No. 1 overall pick of the past decade but alarm bells are ringing. Lawrence has an incredibly high ceiling but he is still a rookie. Meyer announced Lawrence as the Jaguars’ starter despite his shaky preseason. The rookie went 20-for-32 with no touchdowns in two preseason games (via Bleacher Report).
It’s too much to expect Lawrence to be an elite performer from the start of the season. Some NFL analysts believe that the Jags should even start the experienced Gardner Minshew for at least a couple of weeks. This would give Lawrence more time to adapt t0 the pro game without being in the firing line. However, Meyer is throwing the blue-chip prospect into the deep end and may live to regret it.
CBS Sports’ Colin Prisco reported that Meyer brought a college-style approach to discipline in the Jacksonville training camp. Allegedly this rubbed players up the wrong way because they don’t want their coaches to treat them like children. Meyer’s total lack of experience at this level is a major issue because the NFL calendar is so short.
He doesn’t have time to adapt to the league because there aren’t enough games. Meyer had an assistant coach with a boom mic telling players to hydrate and hustle. Allegedly this rubbed senior roster figures up the wrong way. The head coach’s volatile nature is well-documented but he has to realize that he can’t take a college approach to the big leagues.
Meyer’s college achievements speak for themselves. But the simple fact remains that he has zero NFL experience. Furthermore, college coaches traditionally have a shocking record in the professional game. Only three took an NFL head coach role directly from college and enjoyed significant success (via Business Insider). Tom Coughlin, Jimmy Johnson, and Jim Harbaugh are clear outliers.
Meanwhile, the list of failures goes on and on. Great college coaches like Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin fell out of the NFL with a whimper. As did Steve Spurrier, Greg Schiano, and Bobby Petrino. There’s a reason why most franchises take a chance on a coordinator instead of going after college coaches. History isn’t on Meyer’s side.