JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Urban Meyer has rarely, if ever, experienced anything like this in the state of Ohio or Florida.
Ten penalties, six abandoned passes, three turnovers, 20 at halftime. Confusion on the sidelines and in the caucus.
The Jacksonville Jaguars looked essentially ill-prepared during Meyer’s NFL debut, a 37-21 loss to Houston on Sunday. It was such a poor performance against another team believed to be one of the worst in the league that critics wondered if Meyer would stick around long enough to fix the struggling franchise.
And when Southern California fired coach Clay Helton a day later, speculation swirled about Meyer’s immediate future in Jacksonville.
Meyer responded Wednesday by saying “there is no chance” that he will take the work of the Trojans. Believe it or not, he insists he’s for the long haul.
“I am here and determined to try to build an organization,” Meyer added.
This is unlikely to be the last time Meyer’s name has been linked to an academic job offer. After all, the 57-year-old coach has enjoyed success every step of the way, building winners in Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and the state of Ohio. He won two national championships with the Gators (2006, 2008) and another with the Buckeyes (2014).
So far, not much has worked well for Meyer.
He botched the hiring of two coordinators (Chris Doyle, Brian Schneider); filled his staff with longtime NFL guys instead of guys who know his wants and ways; invited Tim Tebow to training camp as a tight end; and had No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence split up valuable first team reps at training camp with a quarterback no longer on the roster.
He raised his eyebrows last week when he mistakenly identified Joe Mixon as the Houston backer and again this week when he couldn’t find the name of his backup swing tackle, Will Richardson.
At best, Meyer looked like a thin, stretched trainer wading through uncharted waters. At worst, it was too deep.
“I have been warned several, several, several, several times that it is a trip; It’s not a sprint, ”he said. “We are healthy, the attitudes are good, we have good players and we are building something.”
Meyer’s draft looked like a money pit in Game 1, between the defense getting ripped off multiple times and the offense struggling to line up properly.
“The main thing (is) that we can’t let young guys feel like they can get used to losing because that’s not the environment we’re trying to create,” said the running back. corner and team captain Shaquill Griffin. “For the captains, we have to do a little more. We have to bring the guys with us. We have to keep them in shape. We have to keep their spirits up and get them to start believing in something that is much bigger than the first game. “
The Jaguars are counting on a better performance Sunday against Denver, which won its opener with the New York Giants.
“It’s just that we lost a game,” Meyer said, downplaying any “narration” or “silliness” circulating around him or the team at the moment.
Meyer took over a 1-15 team in Jacksonville and chose Lawrence as his building block. His assumption was that the Jaguars, like all NFL teams, were talented and just needed better training. But it becomes clear, especially after Jacksonville extended its franchise record to 16 straight games, that Meyer lacks enough playmakers on both sides of the ball to make it a quick turnaround.
“I never want to fall into the trap of saying, ‘This is… a four year plan, a three year plan,” Meyer said. “It’s not fair to the players. This is a plan for one game and we will be worried about the next game.
“There are guys who have played a lot of football in this locker room and they deserve the best of us. That’s what it is. Other than a bruised soul that we all have right now, we still are. pulling us away. Like I said, you’d probably see a little different in my face if I had any bad guys.
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