Urban Meyer was supposed to be a breath of fresh air for a Jaguars team that has experienced plenty of disappointment since the early years of the Tom Coughlin coaching era.
Meyer, the three-time national championship coach at Florida and Ohio State, had accomplished just about everything at the college level and now wanted to try to climb to the NFL mountaintop. But like many others before him, Meyer appears to be on a road to failure.
And quick failure at that.
Meyer walked into a situation he considered close to perfect. With the first overall pick, he had the chance to get coveted Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He inherited a good salary cap situation and a full complement of draft picks to build his team from the ground up.
But the Jaguars are 0-4 and Meyer already has had to issue a public apology for not flying back with his team after a Thursday night loss to the Bengals. Meyer also publicly apologized after being seen in a video at a bar, showing him inappropriately touching a woman who was not his wife.
Meyer told reporters Wednesday that he had "at least three or four conversations with Shad [Khan, the Jaguars’ owner] and the message is loud and clear and I agree. I also met with the team . . . had a very pointed conversation with them, owning a stupid mistake that I made. I apologized for the distraction with a huge week coming up, especially after they made so much improvement from Week 1 to Week 4."
Meyer, who said he had not considered resigning, faces the Titans in an AFC South matchup on Sunday in Jacksonville.
"It’s my responsibility to earn their trust back as their leader," Meyer said. "This is a players’ team. It’s a players’ organization. Our job is to direct them, but they’re the decision-makers in this organization."
That’s a simplistic statement, especially for a coach who has been wooed several times by NFL teams in recent years. Meyer clearly was seen as a savior by Khan, who purchased the team in 2011 but has been to the playoffs only once. The Jaguars aren’t ready to get back to the postseason anytime soon, and now it’s anyone’s guess whether Meyer will last much longer in the NFL.
There already is speculation that he’s interested in returning to the college game (USC has a coaching vacancy after firing Clay Helton last month). The knock against Meyer coming into the NFL was that he wouldn’t be able to adjust to the maturity level of professional players, and he has left himself open to further scrutiny with his behavior last week and apology this week.
It says here that Meyer is not long for the job and that he’ll join Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, Lou Holtz and other successful college coaches who walked away early from the NFL.
Giants not in same class as Cowboys?
Troy Aikman made some waves when discussing Sunday’s matchup between the Cowboys and Giants at AT&T Stadium. The former Dallas quarterback-turned-Fox analyst suggested the Giants aren’t in the same class as the Cowboys.
"I like the Cowboys, I really do," Aikman said on a radio appearance on The Ticket in Dallas. "I’ve seen Tampa. I’ve seen the Rams. I’ve seen the Packers. I get to see all of them, and I think the Cowboys are right there . . . I do feel this is a team that can play with anybody and not to where they have to be at their absolute best.
"And the amount of pressure that this offense puts on an opponent — because they are so explosive that there’s a lot of pressure for an opposing offense to feel that they’ve got to go do something every time they have the ball," he said. "And if they don’t, they’re going to be down two scores. That’s going to be the challenge for the Giants. They’re coming off a big win, but they’re, in my opinion — and I understand in the NFL anybody can beat anybody and all that — but [the Giants] aren’t in Dallas’ class as far as I’m concerned."
To which we say: Where’s the lie?
The Giants really aren’t at the same level as Dallas, and a win on Sunday would amount to a major upset. Sure, the Giants are coming off a thrilling 27-21 overtime win in New Orleans, but the Saints’ offense with Jameis Winston and a decent group of receivers simply isn’t at the same level as the Cowboys’ offense with Dak Prescott and elite receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. And don’t forget Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Giants managed to deal with the Saints’ offense last week, but the matchup against the Cowboys is much more problematic. If they get the better of the Cowboys, it will take a near-perfect effort. The more likely scenario is a long afternoon in Big D.
Buyers’ remorse with Adams?
The Seahawks looked to safety Jamal Adams as the final piece to the puzzle on defense, surrendering two first-round picks to the Jets in 2020 for the hard-hitting tackler and prominent pass rusher. But that deal is looking like a dud these days. Adams was unable to help the Seahawks get past the first round of the playoffs last year and is underachieving badly this season.
Through five games, including Thursday night’s 26-17 loss to the Rams, Adams’ stats reflect his poor play. He has zero sacks, zero interceptions, two tackles for loss and one pass defensed. He was miserable against the Rams, frequently getting beaten in coverage, including a deep pass down the middle of the field to DeSean Jackson and a touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Higbee.
Coach Pete Carroll says it’s too soon to criticize Adams.
"I’m not going after any one guy on anything about anything right now," he said. "It’s not the time. Go after me first."
It has been a long year for the Seahawks’ defense, which is on pace to give up the most yards in a season in NFL history. Not good for a 2-3 team that will be without quarterback Russell Wilson for at least several weeks after he had surgery Friday to repair two injuries to the middle finger on his throwing hand — a ruptured tendon and a fracture-dislocation of the joint at the top of the finger.
The Jets own the Seahawks’ first-round pick in 2022, so the more Seattle loses, the higher the pick. Advantage Jets, especially because they got exceptional value for a player they didn’t feel was good enough to invest in on a long-term contract. That’s Seattle’s headache after Adams secured a four-year, $70 million deal before the start of the season.
"Statement game" in Kansas City
The Bills have taken major strides in becoming a playoff contender and now a Super Bowl contender. Now it’s time to take another step forward in that quest as they take on Kansas City in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game.
Kansas City won that game, 38-24, before losing to Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. But if there’s a time that Buffalo can beat the two-time defending AFC champions, it’s now. The Bills are 3-1 and coming off two blowout victories over inferior opponents Miami and Houston; the Chiefs are 2-2 and struggling on defense.
It’s time for them to make a statement in this Sunday night prime-time matchup.
"We hated the way that it ended last year," Pro Bowl receiver Stefon Diggs said. "Anybody with any competitive nature would hate the way that it ended. So as far as being in the moment . . . things don’t go your way, you kind of still have to deal with them."
Diggs made a point of staying on the field to watch Kansas City celebrate after last season’s playoff win.
"I didn’t want to run from defeat," he said. "You embrace the moment, take it for what it is and move forward. I took it as a moment as you came up short, get back in the lab and you’ve gotta get back to the grind."
Diggs is about to find out whether his team is ready to move another step forward.
If you think this year is featuring more games that go down to the final seconds, you’re not imagining things. Fifteen games have been decided on a game-winning score in the final minute of regulation or overtime, including last week’s OT wins by the Giants and Jets. That’s the most such games through the first four weeks since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Of those 15 games, 12 have been decided on the final play of the game. In 2012, 14 games were decided in the final minute, and in 2013 and 2003, 13 games were decided that late . . . The Jets got a fourth-round pick from the Vikings for Chris Herndon, but the Vikings aren’t getting a very good return so far on the 25-year-old tight end. Herndon has participated in only 43 snaps and has zero catches . . . At 4-0, the Cardinals are this year’s surprise team in the early going. They’ve scored 30 points in each of their first four games and can become the sixth team in NFL history to score at least 30 points in each of their first five games. Four of the five previous teams (the Rams in 2018, the Broncos in 2013 and the Patriots in 2007 and 2011) went on to reach the Super Bowl . . . Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray leads all quarterbacks with a 76.1 completion percentage . . . Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has 40 touchdown passes in his first 19 starts. Only four quarterbacks — Patrick Mahomes (60), Kurt Warner (51), Dan Marino (47) and Tony Romo (43) – have more touchdown throws in their first 20 starts. Herbert will pass Romo if he gets four TD passes against Cleveland on Sunday . . . Odell Beckham Jr. (remember him?) needs six catches against the Chargers to join Julio Jones as the only players with at least 500 catches and 7,000 receiving yards in their first 85 career games. In 84 games, Beckham has 494 catches for 6,934 yards. Jones had 531 receptions and 8,076 yards in his first 85 starts.