Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars are the butts of every joke in the NFL.
If Meyer’s winless team gets embarrassed at home by the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, it is easy to envision him being fired Monday morning.
He is hanging by a thread in Jacksonville after owner Shad Khan’s statement that Meyer “must regain our trust and respect.”
Khan will act once he recognizes the contradiction in his own warning: that a head coach cannot regain his team’s trust and respect once he loses it.
NFL players are proud professionals, so no one expects the Jaguars players to lie down on Sunday. Still, it would be no surprise if they showed just enough of the undisciplined and uninvested habits of their head coach to tip off Khan what needs to be done.
Remove any judgment of Meyer’s apparent infidelity at that bar in Ohio last weekend and simply look at his short time in Jacksonville:
Hiring and then firing accused racist former Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle. Signing Tim Tebow over any real football player to play tight end.
Getting the Jaguars and himself fined a combined $300,000 for OTA violations. Complaining about the competition of free agency and the preseason play-calling of his own coordinators.
Prompting Week 1 reports of dissension among players and coaches fed up with his act. Lamenting to Denver coach Vic Fangio that “every week it’s like playing Alabama in the NFL.”
Then there was the ultimate violation: not flying home with his team after a Thursday night loss in Cincinnati last week, instead staying in Ohio to hang out with women less than half his age.
Not flying home with the team is unheard-of behavior. Then Meyer canceled his first team meeting, his first opportunity to apologize to his team as a whole.
The unaccountable Meyer also dragged QB Travor Lawrence and GM Trent Baalke into his abhorrent behavior. He referenced a Lawrence bachelor party in Las Vegas when describing why he should have been more careful and said he’d told Baalke beforehand of his plans to stay behind in Ohio.
Maybe people buy that stuff in college, where head coaches comparatively are granted carte blanche and essentially have absolute power over amateur athletes.
But those who are informed could see Meyer’s hiring headed for immediate disaster from the beginning. And while Khan was blinded by the big name, the next domino to fall should be Meyer’s last.
Browns QB Baker Mayfield was asked this week what happened on an underthrow of Odell Beckham Jr. last Sunday. Mayfield gave a 25-second inside-football answer about how he and Beckham had read the deep safety differently. But the truth seemed to be that Mayfield had simply misread the safety and made the mistake.
Mayfield also said Beckham’s “game speed is a little bit different” than in practice, making him the first quarterback ever to say his own wide receiver is too fast.
The implied shared responsibility of Mayfield’s inconsistent connections with Beckham is not a new narrative in Cleveland. Mayfield rarely bears the brunt of any criticism, and when he does, the blame gets spread back out.
Mayfield clearly was feeling the heat after his 15-of-33 passing performance in Minnesota.
He posted a long Instagram statement about how is used to battling through “adversity,” his priority is “winning,” and he has his whole team’s “back.” Then news leaked of Mayfield having a partially torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder.
Beckham had Mayfield’s back, too. The former Giants receiver revealed he has had a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder since college, and he said it’s no fun.
“I’ll tell ya that s— hurts,” Beckham said. “He’s tough. It doesn’t feel good.”
Mayfield, 26, still hasn’t earned a big contract in year four, though, so the pressure is on — assuming the excuses for the quarterback’s mistakes don’t persist.
“Everybody is going to try and make an excuse,” Mayfield said. “I just have to make the damn play. It’s that simple.”