Nobody will argue that it’s hard for head coaches to make the jump from college to the pros. What’s in question is whether Urban Meyer will be able to have success as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. A respected national writer recently visited Jags’ training camp and weighed in on the matter.
In his most recent Morning Football in America Column, Peter King of NBC Sports discusses his August 19th visit to Jacksonville and goes over a couple of cliches surrounding Meyer. King says it’s too early to tell if the Jaguars head coach will succeed but based on what he saw, “85 guys are playing hard for him in some unbearable [weather] conditions”.
The first cliché is if losing will “beat down” Meyer. This one makes sense, as he’s used to winning. As King points out, he “was never worse than three games over .500” in 17 years of coaching at the college level. Things won’t be as easy in the pros, so what will he need to turn the Jaguars into a perennial winner? He has to make everyone despise losing. Meyer invited Super Bowl-winning head coach Jimmy Johnson to camp earlier this summer to talk about the importance of setting the tone.
"Meyer brought in Johnson, his friend, and confidant, to speak to the team in camp, and Johnson emphasized it’s the locker room that has to set the tone for a hatred of losing—not simply the coach. Jacksonville is 12-36 over the past three seasons."
Jacksonville Jaguars players can trust Urban Meyer.
The second cliché surrounding Meyer is that will struggle to replicate the dominance he enjoyed in the collegiate ranks. This one is also valid, as he never had trouble recruiting some of the best players in the country. Having access to top talent made his job easier anywhere. Nevertheless, things are more balanced in the NFL and the level of talent disparity isn’t as steep.
King shared an anecdote involving EDGE rusher Josh Allen and his family. The 2019 first-round selection was facing a personal issue, and he turned to Meyer for help. Without hesitation, the Jaguars head coach took care of the situation. Meyer means it when he says he will be there for his players.
"The other day, Allen told me that proved to him that Meyer means what he says. “After he helped fix that situation, I knew I could go to work with the peace of mind that my wife’s going to be okay,” Allen told me. “It meant everything to me.”"
As King says, “productive players must be focused players, and who can you focus with a crisis at home”? The whole anecdote is worth reading.
Urban Meyer has the Jacksonville Jaguars on the right track.
According to a recent report by Jason La Canfora, Meyer is drawing ‘sideways looks’ from executives, coaches, and cap gurus around the league. He mentions his handling of the Jaguars’ “quarterback competition”, the trade that sent Joe Schobert to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Tim Tebow experiment as causes for concern. While these decisions deserve some scrutiny, none of them will likely have a long-term effect.
Also, La Canfora’s report was one-sided. He focuses too much on the criticism but not on the positive impact he’s had in his short stint as the Jaguars head coach. For example, decisions such as increasing the intensity of practices or putting an emphasis on sports performance, nutrition, and recovery will help the Jaguars become a better team on the field, and none of them are brought up in the article.
Also, the fact that Meyer isn’t a “my way or the highway” kind of coach should help him establish a winning culture in Jacksonville. Jaguars players are buying into his vision and you will be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t like the way he’s running things.
Meyer is less than two weeks away from making his regular-season debut as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He will finally have the chance to show if he’s cut for the NFL or not. Based on King’s observations, the odds may be in his favor.