Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer has found himself in hot water in recent weeks. On this week’s More Than Football podcast, PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo and host Brett Yarris are joined by former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum to discuss the effect a head coach creating a crisis can have on a football team.
To watch this episode of More Than Football, tune in to the video player above. You can also listen to the podcast in the player at the end of the article or on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Urban Meyer not flying home with the team displays a lack of commitment
Wingo and Tannenbaum agree that Meyer’s biggest mistake in recent weeks isn’t the video that surfaced recently. Rather, it’s the fact that he didn’t fly back to Jacksonville with the rest of the team after their game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Tannenbaum calls the move “unprecedented,” and Wingo refers to it as “unforgivable.”
Wingo can only recall one other time when something like that happened, and that was when UConn head coach Randy Edsall coached in a BCS game, then didn’t fly back with the team because he was taking a job with a different team.
Not flying back with the team can create a number of problems
Tannenbaum brings up a number of reasons why Meyer letting his team go home without him could cause problems. First, there are the practical concerns. A head coach has several responsibilities, including film review, staff meetings, trainers discussing injuries, practice squad elevations, free agent signings; the list goes on, and, as Tannenbaum points out, “every moment is critical.”
There are also less tangible — but no less impactful — problems. A head coach needs to show his players “that there is nothing more important than the health and safety and well-being of your players and that you’re all in on giving them the best chance to win each and every week.”
Taking a day off and letting your players go home by themselves doesn’t do that.
Meyer has been causing problems since his arrival in Jacksonville
Wingo points out that Meyer has been undermining his players’ faith in him since the beginning. He hired controversial coach Chris Doyle and gave Tim Tebow a full contract. Yet, he failed to recognize how his players might react to those moves.
Not flying back with the team might be the final straw. Meyer can say that he’s all in on the team and other clichés. But as Tannenbaum points out, NFL players aren’t stupid. They’ve seen how Meyer has acted. How committed can he really be?
Urban Meyer doesn’t recognize the differences between college and the NFL
Ultimately, Wingo thinks Meyer “doesn’t understand how different it is to be a coach of men as opposed to a king of kids.” That’s why so many college coaches fail in the NFL. The hiring of Doyle and Tebow are both examples of this problem.
Tannenbaum agrees and is surprised no one in the Jacksonville organization pointed out to Meyer that these decisions would be met with pushback. Or perhaps they did, and Meyer didn’t listen. Listening to Meyer defend himself, Tannenbaum got the impression that he thought himself “beyond reproach.”
The whole situation is clearly a mess. And the fact that Jacksonville has yet to win a game this season isn’t helping. Both Tannenbaum and Wingo acknowledge that if the Jaguars were undefeated, we might be looking at this scenario extremely differently. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, and Meyer is stuck in a mess of his own making.
And while Wingo is quick to point out that he doesn’t want anyone fired, he ends the conversation with the following quote:
“If I’m Shad Khan, I’m wondering what I’ve gotten myself into.”