The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t been good at finding head coaches. That’s nothing new, as their last five hires have not worked out. However, the most recent one, Urban Meyer, not only was the worst of the bunch, he was bad at a historic level and has a strong case as the worst head coach in NFL history.
Before Meyer took the helm, Bobby Petrino was seen as one of the worst head coaches in league history. When he took the Atlanta Falcons job back in 2007, he was seen as an up-and-coming offensive mastermind, one that would turn Michael Vick into an upper-echelon quarterback. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and the first overall pick in 2001 pleaded guilty to charges related to financing an illegal dogfighting ring and was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Gooddell.
Without Vick as the focal point of the offense, Petrino had a 3-10 record and decided he wasn’t cut for the NFL, so he bolted to Arkansas without taking the time to tell his players. Instead, he left a letter in the locker in which he explained his decision to quit. This led several players to call him a coward and a quitter and rightfully so, as he didn’t have the courtesy to tell them face to face that he was leaving them.
There’s no doubt Petrino’s departure was bad, and he might have been able to turn things around had he decided to stick around. The Falcons had the first overall pick the year the following year, which they used in quarterback Matt Ryan, and ended the season with an 11-5 record and a trip to the playoffs. The newly-hired Mike Smith won the 2008 NFL Head Coach of the Year and Ryan was the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Why is former Jaguars HC Urban Meyer worse than Bobby Petrino?
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk pointed out, Petrino wasn’t in the hot seat at the time and was expected to be the head coach of the Falcons in 2008. Moreover, the Vick situation was out of his control, so even though quitting overnight was bad, it doesn’t come close to everything that unfolded during Urban Meyer’s short stint in Jacksonville.
Sure, Petrino’s tenure in A-Town was dreadful but he didn’t have reports about dysfunction pop up every week as Meyer did. Also, he had more wins in 13 games than Meyer did in the same span and wasn’t involved in scandals off the field the way Meyer did, those came later.
You can call Petrino a coward and there’s no way he will ever coach again at the NFL level ever but he didn’t spend his time in the pros burning seemingly every bridge he stepped in. Meanwhile, Meyer achieved a feat most coaches would have a hard time pulling off: He successfully alienated the Jaguars’ ownership, the coaching staff, the players, and the fans. What kind of entitlement do you have to have to kick a player and then tell him you can do whatever you want because you’re the head coach?
Meyer didn’t have much success in Jacksonville but he can proudly say he has the dubious achievement of being the worst head coach in NFL history.