Months of tension around Jaguars coach Urban Meyer have spilled over with multiple run-ins with players and other coaches in recent weeks, sources say, renewing questions in league circles over whether the stay de Meyer at Jacksonville could end after just one tumultuous season.
At this point, there is no indication that Jaguar owner Shad Khan is seriously considering a change. One of the most patient and caring owners in the NFL, Khan has dreamed for years of Meyer – a three-time national college champion in Florida and Ohio – coaching his team and reshaping the culture of ‘a franchise used to losing, before finally attracting it. of retirement in January. (A spokesperson for Khan declined to comment for this story.)
But sources say that Meyer’s repeated public comments blaming the team’s players and coaches in the middle of the team’s 2-10 season have exacerbated frustration in the building with his harsh and at times patronizing approach – a style that , according to many observers, would not work in the NFL. even before the Jaguars hired him.
At the start of Sunday’s visit to Tennessee, the Jaguars have lost four games in a row and five of six since their Week 7 break, averaging just 10.7 points per game over that span. One of their best players, running back James Robinson, was benched last week under unclear circumstances. Franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence – who has shown flashes of why Jacksonville selected him No.1 overall in the April Draft – only passes 58% of his passes for 2,514 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
And while the Jaguars opted not to fire Meyer in September after he stayed in Ohio instead of bringing the team’s plane home after a Week 4 loss to the Bengals, only to be captured in viral videos at a bar with a young woman who isn’t his wife dancing near his knees, sources say Meyer hasn’t adjusted his approach.
In the past two weeks alone, sources say:
- Wide receiver Marvin Jones – one of the most respected and sweetest veterans in the locker room – grew so angry at Meyer’s public and private criticism of the receiving group that he left the facility until ‘that other staff members convince him to come back and have a heated argument with Meyer during training.
- During a staff meeting, Meyer delivered a biting message that he is a winner and his assistant coaches are losers, according to several people briefed on the contents of the meeting, individually challenging each coach to explain when he was already won and forcing them to defend. their resumes.
- Contrary to his public statements that it was an injury, Meyer ordered Robinson’s bench after an opening fumble in the 37-7 loss to the Rams last week, then called on the Running backs coach Bernie Parmalee barred Robinson from returning to the game, insisting that Carlos Hyde (who played for Meyer at Ohio State) stay. It was only after Lawrence questioned Meyer on the sidelines about Robinson’s absence that Robinson was allowed to return at the end of the second quarter. (Speaking to reporters this week, Lawrence said: âAt the end of the day James is one of our best players and he has to be on the pitch and we’ve tackled him, and I feel like we are in a good position and that the whole team was good. “)
Several Jaguars players expressed frustration to Rams players after that game, sources said, reiterating a common complaint that Meyer – who had no experience in the NFL – does not treat them like adults. And the staff meeting follows a pattern of tense interactions between Meyer and his assistants dating back to the offseason. After opening the preseason with back-to-back losses, for example, sources claim that Meyer informed assistants that he was fed up with being embarrassed and that if the team didn’t start winning immediately, some them would not be there for a second year.
There has been staff turnover since Meyer’s arrival in January, for a variety of reasons. Meyer’s hand-picked strength and conditioning trainer Chris Doyle resigned under pressure in February after renewed attention to allegations of racial remarks that led to Doyle’s separation agreement at University of Iowa in 2020. Special Teams Coordinator Brian Schneider took time off in May for personal reasons and has not returned. Meyer’s chief of staff Fernando Lovo left the team last month to return to the University of Texas. Tight Ends Coach Tyler Bowen is set to become the offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, according to college sports and recruiting site On3.com. And more staff changes are expected after the season, even assuming Meyer stays.
There have been other missteps. In July, the NFL fined the Jaguars $ 200,000 and Meyer $ 100,000 for breaking the rules on organized team activities and docked the team for two OTA days in 2022. In September, the NFL Players Association has announced that it is launching an investigation after Meyer admitted to reporters that the team factored vaccine status into cutback decisions. (The status of this investigation is unclear; 23 of the 24 cut players were vaccinated.)
And of course, there were the October viral videos, which were filmed in the days following a 24-21 loss to the Bengals that brought Jacksonville down to 0-4. Meyer apologized publicly and to the team, telling players days later that he had been drinking too much and acting like an “asshole idiot”. Khan issued a somewhat lukewarm statement of support for Meyer, calling his conduct “inexcusable” and adding: “I appreciate Urban’s remorse, which I believe is sincere. Now he must regain our trust and respect. It will require a personal commitment from Urban to all who support, represent or play for our team. I have no doubts that he will deliver. “
The Jaguars actually won two of their next four games, ending a 20-game losing streak and giving Meyer his first NFL victory – against the Dolphins in London on October 17 – before stunning the Bills, 9 -6, three weeks later. But they haven’t won since and the signs of progress have faded. With a top coach who, along with Lawrence, was supposed to bring fans back to TIAA Bank Field, the Jaguars are currently ranked 30th in the NFL.
Khan made his fortune in the car bumper business, learning the value of building processes over time, and he applied that mindset to NFL ownership. He stayed with coach Gus Bradley in a fourth season despite Bradley’s 14-48 record with a young team being rebuilt. Bradley’s successor, Doug Marrone, lasted four full seasons, taking the Jaguars to the AFC championship game after the 2017 season, but finishing just 23-43 before his sacking after last season.
In October, Khan told NFL insider Ian Rapoport days after the Jaguars’ first victory in mid-October that he âabsolutelyâ trusted Meyer and expanded on his statement on the videos.
âI think it’s NFL football,â Khan said. “You are on stage all the time and you have to be absolutely self-aware.”