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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

The End Around: The Jaguars swung and missed, again

This offseason, like many before it, was full of hope for Jacksonville Jaguars supporters. With the addition of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Head Coach Urban Meyer, it felt like the entire organization had received a much-needed facelift. Meyer’s catchy slogans including “+2 Mentality” and “Own It,” the team's evolution into a players-first organization, improved strength and conditioning programs and plans for a brand-new training facility made it feel as if a genuine culture shift was afoot in Duval County. But after five weeks, it appears that Meyer has brought the toxicity from his past to the Jaguars. 

On Sunday, the Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans by a score of 37–19. For every positive moment that the Jaguars had, there was a head-scratching decision from Meyer and the rest of his coaching staff. Shaquill Griffin shadowed A.J. Brown and held him to 38 yards on three catches, Dan Arnold reeled in six catches for 64 yards and James Robinson carved the Titans up to the tune of 149 yards and a touchdown on only 19 carries. 

If my running back had 149 yards on 19 carries, I would prioritize putting the ball in his hands. For whatever reason, the Jaguars stopped giving Robinson the ball about midway through the third quarter. This was most evident when Meyer and company decided to give fourth-and-one goal line carry to Carlos Hyde instead of Robinson, or even opting for a quarterback sneak. Another shocking decision from the coaching staff was to give Laviska Shenault — the team’s most dynamic offensive weapon — only three targets throughout the entire game. This comes on the heels of a performance where he had six catches for 99 yards, prompting Meyer to say he wanted the playmaker to see at least ten touches per game. This disconnect between the product and coaching decisions suggests that with this position, Meyer is in over his head. 

Furthermore, Meyer’s curious postgame press conference did nothing to restore confidence in the Jaguars Head Coach. When asked about the fourth-and-one play, Meyer responded by saying, “I don’t micromanage who is in the game.” I’d argue that even if Meyer is not the one calling the plays, it is his responsibility to get his best players on the field in high-leverage moments. When asked about why the team did not opt for a quarterback sneak, Meyer said Lawrence is “not quite comfortable with that yet.” But when Lawrence was asked about it he provided a completely different answer, saying, “No, I feel comfortable.” This striking interaction highlights the fact that Meyer is not in-tune with his players, which is one of the most important aspects of being a coach. Moments like this and the press conference as a whole begin to reveal how Meyer has only worsened the Jaguars’ organizational dysfunction. 

This deeply troubling interview comes about a week after Meyer chose to not fly home with the team after a heartbreaking loss to the Bengals and later in the weekend, was caught dancing with a younger woman at his own bar. If the man in the video was not Meyer, then this would be a non-story (assuming everything was consensual). But Meyer is being paid a multimillion-dollar salary to turn around the Jacksonville Jaguars and instead of working to fix a 0–5 team, he chose to spend a night out on the town. Furthermore, he had the hubris to dance with another woman while a photo of him and his wife hung on the wall of the bar. In his first media appearance since the incident, Meyer fed an inaccurate story and unnecessarily mentioned Lawrence’s bachelor party in Las Vegas. While many players have supported Meyer publicly, numerous reports have suggested that Meyer has lost all credibility within the locker room and that he is viewed as incompetent amongst the players.

This saga only adds to a growing list of missteps by Meyer, including hiring Chris Doyle, signing Tim Tebow and staging a quarterback competition between Lawrence and former Jaguar Gardner Minshew II. Meyer’s stint in Jacksonville will be very short if he cannot bring on-field results to cover for his off-field issues, as he did at the University of Florida and Ohio State.