Over the last few weeks, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer have been the target of criticism by executives and decision-makers around the NFL. While some may be warranted, it’s becoming tiresome, as it feels like they are just looking for an excuse to pick on the head coach.
After trimming down their roster to 53 players on August 31, Meyer had a sitdown with the local media. He discussed the reasons behind some of the moves the organization made but one comment stood out, “Everyone was considered, that was part of the production. Let’s start talking about this and also was he vaccinated or not. To say that was a decision-maker, it certainly was under consideration”.
Meyer basically echoed what Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane previously said and most decision-makers around the league think about a player’s vaccination status. Simply, not getting the vaccine is a competitive disadvantage. Availability is the best ability and if you are out because you tested positive for the virus, you can’t help your team. Needless to say, the backlash in the aftermath of the comments couldn’t come any sooner.
Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap believes the Jaguars need to find a way to prevent Meyer from saying things he shouldn’t. Former NFL player Geoff Schwartz simply said “Jacksonville is a mess“, why? Because Meyer echoed what most head coaches believe. Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmers expressed his frustration over players’ reluctance to get the vaccine. Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera had to plea to his players to get the vaccine, as he has a compromised immune system after undergoing cancer treatment in 2020.
The Jacksonville Jaguars did what probably other teams did.
The NFL Player’s Association (the players’ union) announced that they would look into Meyer’s comments. The Jaguars released a statement saying that “no player was released beacuse of their vaccination status”. Here’s the whole thing, via the team’s official PR Twitter account.
The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Urban Meyer as their head coach because they believe he’s the right man to turn the team into a perennial contender. While it remains to be seen if he will pull the feat, his methods have already been questioned, and he hasn’t even coached his first game in the NFL.
First, Jason La Canfora reported Meyer was drawing “sideways looks” from peers around the league because he decided to hold a quarterback competition instead of outright naming Trevor Lawrence the starter. La Canfora also cited the decision to sign Tim Tebow and trading linebacker Joe Schobert as questionable moves. Pete Cisco of CBS Sports also chimed in and said that some Jaguars’ players weren’t thrilled with Meyer’s approach. The criticism basically revolved around the fact that an assistant was reminding players to stay hydrated during practices.
It remains to be seen if Meyer and the Jaguars will receive some kind of punishment for his comments related to the vaccine. But the truth is that’s question the validity of them is nitpicking. Call him out for hiring Chris Doyle as the director of sports performance earlier this year, not for wanting his players to be available or stay hydrated.
Don’t pile on him for saying the quiet part out loud. While some coaches want their players to be vaccinated because it’s the right thing to do, others see it as another item to check on their to-do list. Regardless of the reason, not getting the vaccine puts a team at a disadvantage. Meyer knows that. Criticize him if he fails to turn the Jaguars around, not because he wants to be in a position to win.