The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t won many games in recent years, so at first sight, their 3-14 record in 2021 doesn’t seem out of place. However, a close look reveals that last season was like no other for the Jags due to the presence of Urban Meyer, who did more bad than good during his short stint. While the Jags might not have fared much better with a more competent coach at the helm, Meyer deserves the blame for most of the things that went wrong last year.
Chris Brockman of the Rich Eisen Show is asking burning questions for all NFL teams ahead of the 2022 season and wonders if the Jaguars’ last year debacle was all on Meyer’s shoulders. Without hesitation, host Rich Eisen answers “yes”.
Eisen brings up Meyer’s infamous video (one the Los Angeles Chargers social media team hasn’t forgotten) after Jacksonville’s Thursday Night Football loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and goes on to cite other incidents that arose during his infamous tenure as the Jaguars’ head coach.
“And this is after a training camp where we learned subsequently crazy things were happening on the football field”, Eisen said. “Kicking a kicker and everything going on with making coaches defend their resumes, whether there were winners or losers or not”.
Meyer was often the source of controversy and his questionable decision-making would frequently raise eyebrows. He was responsible for a lengthy list of incidents, which is something Eisen mentioned before talking about the benching of running back James Robinson.
"Do I need to go into everything through the playing season where the rookie quarterback goes up to the coach on the sidelines in Los Angeles and says where’s our running back who fumbled earlier in the game? And he says like, “I don’t know”. Let me check out, let me check on that. Oh, yeah! Put them back in the game and then afterwards says, I wasn’t the one who told everyone to bench him and he did."
The straw that broke the camel’s toe was kicker Josh Lambo claiming Meyer kicked him during warmups when he was still part of the team. Not long after Lambo discussed the incident, Meyer was kicked to the curb. Here’s the clip of Eisen discussing Meyer’s role in the Jaguars’ struggles last year. He also talks about the Deshaun Watson stink and the Seattle Seahawks quarterback situation.
How much better would the Jaguars have been without Urban Meyer?
In the three seasons prior to Meyer’s arrival, Jacksonville won a combined 12 games and they were coming off a 1-15 season when they hired him. That’s why Brockman’s question makes sense.
In retrospect, the Jaguars’ roster was devoid of talent, and Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke added some players that went on to become important pieces. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin, Marvin Jones Jr., whom he later antagonized, and return specialist/offensive weapon Jamal Agnew. Also, Jacskovnille’s 2021 draft seems to have been a productive one, even if you take Trevor Lawrence out of the equation.
Travis Etienne suffered a Lisfranc injury in the preseason last year but he was expected to be a key cog on offense. Cornerback Tyson Campbell became a solid starter as the season progressed and both Walker Little (possibly) and Andre Cisco will take on starting roles in 2022. Meyer (and Baalke) brought in some talented players, so the cupboard wasn’t bare when Doug Pederson took over.
Having said that, the problem with Meyer wasn’t the roster, it was his out-of-touch, narcissistic ways. He didn’t see it as necessary to tweak his approach to the NFL and believed that he and him alone was everything the Jaguars needed to win games.
Would the Jaguars have made the playoffs last year with the same roster but a different head coach? Probably not but they wouldn’t have been as dysfunctional as they were with Meyer leading (or trying to lead) the way. On the bright side, Doug Pederson has the team trending in the right direction, and won’t make the same mistakes his predecessor did.