After about a week of speculation, the Jacksonville Jaguars finally got their man in Urban Meyer to be their next head coach.
Jacksonville didn’t just dip into the college pool of coaches to find their next head honcho. They dipped into the “retired” pool of collegiate coaches.
Urban Meyer is no doubt one of the best collegiate coaches of all time. Wherever he goes, he turns around a struggling program and makes them into immediate and sustained winners.
Meyer has never had a losing season as a head coach. With stops at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Overall he has a career record of 187-32 (.854).
On paper it seems like a no brainer. One of the best football coaches on planet earth for a team that needs an immediate turn around.
But will it work? Can Meyer work his same magic in the NFL as he did in college?
Why It Will Work:
Meyer walks into a truly unique situation where he can create whatever type of team he wants.
This type of roster freedom is usually only seen in Madden when one can control the Jaguars, trade away everything and literally start from scratch.
The Jags own the highest amount of cap space in the NFL this off season at about a whopping $74 million. The only player they are actually paying a decent chunk of money to and for the foreseeable future is Myles Jack who is owed in the neighborhood of $13.5 million per year.
Meyer can spend as freely as he wants in the next couple of off seasons to quickly add talent to the roster. A luxury not afforded to him in the college game where there is no free agent market for already established stars.
The amount of cap space also allows Jacksonville a wait and see approach where they can preach patience and see if that money would be best served going towards some recent draft picks.
Players like Josh Allen (the other one), CJ Henderson, James Robinson, K’Lavon Chaisson, Laviska Shenault and more.
But there is also no player sinking their cap situation or who could not be moved for the right price. If a certain player does not fit Meyer’s vision for the team, everyone is expendable.
I don’t need to spell out this one too much.
Despite what we last saw from him in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State, Lawrence is still a once in a generational type quarterback.
He gives off the same vibes as Andrew Luck coming out of Stanford in terms of being a slam dunk pick for a franchise QB.
He has the accuracy, the arm strength and agility to be whatever Meyer asks him to be.
Quarterback is the biggest hole to fill on this roster and Meyer has been handed one in his lap from day one.
Looking into the immediate and near future Meyer steps into a relatively weak division.
You think of some of the other head coaching vacancies available right now. Places like the LA Chargers where you have to face Mahomes twice a year. The Jets who have to take on the Bills, the up and coming Dolphins and of course the Patriots all twice a year. The Lions who still have Aaron Rodgers to contend with or the Falcons who get to deal with Sean Payton.
If you look at the AFC South what do you really see?
Houston who is also looking for a new coach and who’s franchise quarterback wants out.
Indianapolis who has a good overall roster, but will need to answer the quarterback question very soon and won’t have the draft capital to find a new one there.
And Tennessee who it seems has sort of peaked as a good team but not exactly a title contender.
When looking at the AFC South it looks like a pretty welcoming division for a coach who specializes in rebuilds.
He’s Just a Really Good Coach
Credit where credit is due for Urban Meyer. He is a damn good coach. He basically created the RPO almost a decade before anyone else did.
Granted, by accident but he refined it.
He refined the spread offense and kept changing it even as defenses began to catch up with him.
He can also teach on the defensive side of the ball.
And think about all of the elite pass rushers that came out of his Florida and Ohio State programs and you begin to realize that the man just knows how to coach football.
At the end of the day that’s what it is really about. Picking the right guy in the draft is simply the start, developing him into a star is something else entirely that Urban Meyer obviously has figured it.
It honestly might be scary to see what Meyer can develop these players into with extra time.
In the college game he only gets 3-4 years with those athletes to develop them into what he wants. Imagine what he could have done with the Bosa brothers had he had his hands on them for 10 years.
Why It Won’t Work
No Longer The Big Man on Campus
In college Urban Meyer had the first and final say on all matters with his football team. Whether it came to scheme, depth chart or recruiting the buck stopped with him.
In Jacksonville however it does not seem as though he will have the same authority.
#Jaguars owner Shad Khan declines to say who will have final say on the roster, but says Urban Meyer will be working with him to find their new GM. “Everyone will be carrying out Urban’s vision."
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 15, 2021
Meyer will be working with a GM when it comes to building a roster.
I can understand where the Jaguars are coming from here. Meyer has never coached in the NFL, it would seem foolish to give someone with zero professional head coaching and personnel experience the reigns from day one.
It seems as though Meyer will get to hand pick his right hand man for building the team.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan said he wanted a coach-centric model all along. Urban Meyer will help pick a GM, and Khan hopes that GM will be in place in the next week or so.
"We're gonna be carrying out Urban's vision for the team."
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 15, 2021
But it feels as though that when we see these power struggles between coach and general manager play out, it’s usually former college coaches.
The main immediate examples being Jim Harbaugh with the 49ers and Chip Kelly and the Eagles.
And to go further back into the 90’s Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones.
There seems to be a disconnect for collegiate coaches when they make the jump to the NFL no longer having full authority over their teams rosters. And someone with the big ego and personality of Urban Meyer could struggle with that.
No Pick of the Five Stars
This can be said about any college coach that makes the jump to the pro’s but it still needs to be said.
There is no recruiting in the NFL.
At Ohio State or Florida, Meyer had five star talent lining up out the door to come play for him and his program. There was no shortage of incredible athletes at key positions for his teams.
Just think of his time at Florida where he had two Heisman Trophy winners in Tim Tebow and Cam Newton in the same quarterback room. You will not find that at Jacksonville.
While Trevor Lawrence may be his starter, there is no Justin Fields sitting and waiting patiently right behind him.
If the Jags miss on a pick in the draft, they miss. There is no whoopsies, we will recruit another 5 star talent at that same position next year.
Not to mention that Meyer never had to (Allegedly) pay his five star athletes. Keep as many as you want for as long as you can.
Even if he hits on every single pick, eventually he will have to let some of those guys go due to the nature of the salary cap.
That is the true difficulty of the NFL. A team can amass a boat load of talent but that true championship window is slim before it’s time to pay the piper.
“Trusty” Health Issues
I put the word trusty in quotes here because mainly, as a fan from the outside looking in, I do not trust Urban Meyer.
His longest tenure as a head coach anywhere is seven years. Which came at Ohio State his alma mater. Where he probably had a hand shake deal as a lifetime job.
However he left the same as he did at Florida where he spent six years, citing mysterious medical issues. And when he left Ohio State he claimed he was never going to coach again.
See how long that lasted…
So if you’re Jacksonville you’re signing yourself up for what at the most seven years? That doesn’t scream long term success at me.
And I don’t buy into the thought of Meyer finding he likes the NFL coaching job much more than college and sticks it out for 15 years.
Some guys enjoy the building rather than the sustaining. You look at coaches like Nick Saban, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid.
All of them are exceptional at not just building a winner but sustaining it. They understand it’s harder to keep that success afloat.
But honestly Urban Meyer reminds me more of Bill Parcells. Someone who enjoys rebuilding a team but has no moral qualms in terms of jumping ship when it gets boring or just too stressful for them.
Parcells coached four different teams. The Giants for eight years was his longest tenure by far. New England for four years, the Jets for three and the Cowboys for four seasons.
Yet no one doubts Bill Parcells is a great coach, he is in the NFL Hall of Fame, but he never stays for long. Sounds like someone we know.
I honestly think Urban Meyer will be successful in the NFL. He’s a brilliant football coach, who will get to rebuild a bad Jaguars roster over night with the help of a brand new franchise quarterback. One who within a couple of years should already be recognized as the best QB in Jags history.
Meyer also brings credibility to the Jaguars. He’s not an unproven coordinator, the man has had legitimate and immediate success wherever he goes.
But, this is not a forever job. I suspect that Urban Meyer lasts at tops six years with Jacksonville and leaves on his own accord.
Just to see him play the retired and or TV card for a year or two before jumping at a big time opportunity. Say a big time job opens up like the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers where he could gain historical recognition from an NFL blue blood.
Meyer wants to prove he can coach in the NFL which I believe that he can. But that Jacksonville just provides the perfect stepping stone into that world, before he leaves to take on bigger fish.
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