With Week 17 of the NFL season upon us, the head coach rumor mill is at full steam. One name that is picking up steam over the past couple of weeks is Urban Meyer, who has been linked with the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach role. In the latest episode of the Draft Insiders podcast, Pro Football Network’s NFL Insider Tony Pauline shed more light on the situation with Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Update January 14: According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Urban Meyer has been named the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is in line with what PFN’s Tony Pauline has been reporting since the beginning of January.
Trent Baalke is pushing the Jaguars towards Urban Meyer
On the show, Pauline reported that the driving force behind Urban Meyer as the head coach for the Jaguars is Trent Baalke. Baalke is currently the interim general manager of the Jaguars, following the firing of David Caldwell. Baalke was hired in February as the Jaguars director of player personnel. His previous NFL role was as the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.
“Someone close to the situation told me earlier today that the word inside the league is Trent Baalke, who is the director of player personnel for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is pushing to bring Urban Meyer to the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
Meyer and Baalke have a relationship from Baalke’s time as a scout with the 49ers. Baalke was the West Coast scout for the 49ers in 2005 and was instrumental in the selection of Alex Smith first-overall in the 2005 NFL Draft.
“Now Baalke has a good relationship with Urban Meyer, going back to 2005 when Baalke was the West Coast scout for the San Francisco 49ers. He did a ton of homework on Alex Smith. He developed a great relationship with Urban Meyer to get information on Alex Smith. And then lo and behold, the San Francisco 49ers make Alex Smith the first pick in the 2005 Draft.”
Note: You can view Pauline talking about the latest on what he’s hearing in the video above. Don’t forget to visit and subscribe to the PFN YouTube Channel for more.
Could previous health problems prevent Urban Meyer from taking the role?
Meyer stepped down as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes in December 2018. Meyer dealt with health issues throughout his coaching career. In 2009, Meyer was admitted to a hospital in Gainesville, suffering from chest pains and dehydration. He took a leave of absence following the Bears Sugar Bowl victory on January 1st, 2010. He returned to coach the team in 2010 but resigned that same year citing health reasons.
Urban Meyer returned to coaching in 2012 with the Buckeyes, coaching the team for six years. However, health issues continued to be a concern. Meyer was diagnosed with a benign cyst on the membrane that covers his brain. The condition is not life-threatening, but Meyer often suffered from headaches and appeared to be impacted on the sideline at times. After being warned about his long-term health, Meyer retired from coaching in 2018.
These health concerns are a big part of the story of whether Urban Meyer will return to coaching, especially at the NFL level. Pauline also addressed this topic on the show this week.
“Will Urban Meyer take it? People think that it may be easier for him in the NFL because he won’t have to deal with the week to week, month to month recruiting that he had to deal with on the college level. They feel that with the recruiting off his shoulders, it may a less stressful gig for him.”
Trevor Lawrence could make the Jaguars head coach role more attractive to Meyer
Much has been made of the Jacksonville Jaguars locking up the first-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jaguars now have an opportunity to draft a prospect in Trevor Lawrence, who is widely considered to be the best QB in the draft since Andrew Luck. Pauline touched on that during this week’s show.
“…you have got to think, that with the Jaguars holding the first pick in the draft, with a guy like Trevor Lawrence coming in, who will be rated head and shoulders above Alex Smith, that job is going to be a lot more attractive for Urban Meyer.”
Urban Meyer has been an extremely successful coach in college
At 56-years old, Urban Meyer has never coached in the NFL, but he has been extremely successful as a college head coach. As a head coach, Meyer has a 187-32 record across four different schools. He has never had a losing season in his time as a head coach.
Meyer started his head coaching career at Bowling Green State, where he went 17-6. He left Bowling Green after two seasons and took up the head coach role at Utah. During his time at Utah, Meyer went 22-2, winning the Liberty Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.
In 2005, Meyer became the head coach of the Florida Gators. During his time in Florida, the Gators went 65-15 across six seasons. Meyer won two BCS Championships with the Gators, as well as three other bowl games. He left in 2010 and did not return to the sidelines until 2012.
Meyer’s time at Ohio State was another huge success. In the seven years he was at Ohio State, he lost just nine games, winning 93. He added a College Football Championship to his two BCS Championships om 2014. In his first year with Ohio State, Meyer led the team to an undefeated season. However, the Buckeyes were ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.
Meyer has a reputation for his work with quarterbacks
At Bowling Green, Urban Meyer produced great results with Josh Harris to turn that team around from a 2-9 record in 2000. At Utah, he coached Alex Smith, who was the number one overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. In 2007, Tim Tebow won a Heisman Trophy under the coaching of Meyer.
The one knock on Meyer as a quarterback coach would be the relative lack of success of his players at the NFL level. Alex Smith has been the most successful to date, but he has not lived up to his billing as a first-overall selection.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need strong leadership
Since being founded in 1995, the Jaguars have gone 177-238. They have played in three conference championships and made the playoffs seven times in those 26 seasons. In the past 13 seasons, they have made the playoffs just once. The 2017 season was also the only time in those 13 years the Jaguars have had a winning record.
If Urban Meyer was to join the Jaguars as head coach, he would be taking on a team that has finished last in their NFL division four times in the past five years. Offensively, they have ranked in the bottom 10 in points and yards in all four of those seasons. Additionally, he would be inheriting a defense that struggled this past season. The Jaguars defense ranked 31st in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed in the 2020 season.
There is certainly work to be done in Jacksonville. However, the potential of working with Trevor Lawrence makes the job an attractive proposition.