Urban Meyer

Jaguars, Urban Meyer Subpoenaed In Iowa Investigation

We’re continuing to monitor the Richard Sherman case, but it isn’t the only legal situation developing around the NFL on Wednesday. The Jaguars and their head coach Urban Meyer have been subpoenaed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union reports.

The subpoena is for “documents, electronic transmissions and other evidence related to the hiring and subsequent resignation of former University of Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle by Meyer in February.” The evidence they’re seeking is regarding a “$20 million racial discrimination civil lawsuit filed against Iowa on Nov. 12 by eight former Iowa players.”

Doyle was a former assistant at Iowa, who left the school last summer with a $1.1MM separation agreement after he was accused of making racist remarks and belittling players. Meyer subsequently hired him for his inaugural Jaguars staff, which drew a lot of backlash.

Meyer initially stood by Doyle, but eventually Doyle resigned shortly after joining the team. The Jaguars issued a curt statement denying that they’ll be of any use in the investigation. “We respect and will cooperate with the legal process as required,” it read. “However, the Jaguars have no information that would be relevant to the lawsuit between student-athletes and the University of Iowa.

That might turn out to be true, but it’s another unwelcome distraction for Meyer as he prepares for his first season as an NFL head coach. We’ll update with any further developments.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys, 49ers, Jags Penalized For OTA Violations

SATURDAY: It turns out the 49ers were not forced to cancel their final week of OTAs this year, with Schefter adding the team avoided such a penalty after having already canceled its final OTA session and its mandatory minicamp (Twitter link).

THURSDAY: Three organizations have been slapped with fines following OTA violations. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the league handed out the following punishments:

  • Cowboys fined $100K, HC Mike McCarthy $50K
  • 49ers fined $100K, HC Kyle Shanahan fined $50K
  • Jaguars fined $200K, HC Urban Meyer $100K

The three teams violated CBA rules focused on offseason workouts.

The Cowboys will also have to forfeit one of their OTA practices during the 2022 offseason, while the Jaguars will have to forfeit a pair of 2022 practices. The 49ers have already carried out their penalty; per Schefter, the NFL Management Council “ordered” the organization to cancel the final week of OTAs back in June. When we reported that the 49ers were cutting short their offseason program, the decision was attributed to injuries, as the team lost part-time starters Justin Skule and Tarvarius Moore for the season and running back Jeff Wilson for the next few months.

“The health and safety of our players is our highest priority, and we take following league rules very seriously,” the 49ers said in a statement today (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area on Twitter). “We will continue to work with the NFL and the NFLPA to ensure compliance.”

Jaguars’ Urban Meyer: “Zero Chance” Of NCAA Return

After years of speculation, Urban Meyer finally made the jump to the pros. Unlike other well-known college coaches before him, the Jaguars’ HC says there’s “zero chance” that he’ll return to the NCAA ranks.

Zero chance at that happening,” Meyer said (via Peter King of NBC Sports). “What coach [Nick] Saban went through, I don’t know. That’s Coach Saban’s business. I’m not quite sure. At some point, I might talk to him about it…he’s a friend of mine and I got great respect for him. It is different. It’s completely different. My mind is set. There’s gonna be some losses. That’s gonna be miserable. I hate losing. We all do. But the reality is that you’re gonna lose. Hopefully you win more than you lose. But that’s something that’s gonna be new to me. I have to get my mind right and I’m working on that.”

Two years after leaving LSU for the Dolphins’ job, Saban requested his releasee so that he could go to the University of Alabama. Meyer, on the other hand, says he’s in it for the long haul. With a lucrative contract in hand and Clemson star Trevor Lawrence (likely) on the way, the former Ohio State and Florida coach has little reason to look in the rear view mirror.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Urban Meyer: Drafting Trevor Lawrence ‘Certainly The Direction We’re Headed’

Gone are the days of NFL teams with the first overall pick trying to play it particularly coy. It’s been widely assumed for a while now that the Jaguars will be taking Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence when the 2021 NFL Draft opens, and new Jags coach Urban Meyer more or less confirmed that to Peter King of NBC Sports.

“I’d have to say that’s the direction we’re going. I’ll leave that up to the owner when we make that decision official. But I’m certainly not stepping out of line that that’s certainly the direction we’re headed,” Meyer acknowledged. “Trevor checks all the boxes, you know?” Meyer said before explaining what exactly he loves about the passer regarded as one of the best pro prospects in recent memory.

The number one common quality of every great player, not just quarterback, is competitive maniac. He’s 34-2. Won a national title as a true freshman. Is a winner. I’ve seen him up close and in person compete. And then character. I see him and I witness with my players, when the guys get drafted high, a lot of people get . . . They have influences in their live. Like, whether it be social media, whether it be other things that really don’t pertain to winning,” Meyer said.

“What I’m really pleased with and I don’t want to say surprised, but him, his agent, his family, they’re focused on one thing. He wants to become the best version of himself for the National Football League, which is, well, it is somewhat refreshing.” It sounds like Meyer has spent a lot of time around Lawrence and his family, and is more than comfortable with the coming selection.

Considering we heard in February that Meyer had advised Lawrence on his pro day schedule, this isn’t too surprising. In the full piece, which is worth a read, Meyer explains his decision to jump to the NFL ranks, and said he’s “committed to Jacksonville.” He said he gave a lot of thought to the health issues that have plagued him in the past, and clearly doesn’t think they’ll be an issue with the Jags.

With their coach more or less admitting Lawrence will be the pick, this could potentially speed the process of a Gardner Minshew trade. The Jags just signed C.J. Beathard to be a backup signal-caller, potentially signaling that Minshew might not be long for the roster. Either way, you can pretty much put it in ink that Roger Goodell will be announcing Lawrence to Jacksonville next month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Urban Meyer Advised Trevor Lawrence On Pro Day Schedule

Since the Jaguars wrapped up the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, it has been a foregone conclusion that the club will use that selection on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a potentially generational talent. If you wanted even more evidence that Jacksonville will make Lawrence the first player to hear his name called when the draft kicks off on April 29, you have it.

Lawrence underwent surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder yesterday, but in order to show off his abilities before going under the knife, he held an early pro day last Friday. And as John Reid of the Florida Times-Union writes, new Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer was instrumental in bringing that pro day about.

When he heard a little over a week ago that Lawrence would need surgery, Meyer said he had a number of phone calls with his future quarterback. “We did a Zoom call with him, and I asked him – there are three choices you have. No. 1, you can wait until March 11 Pro Day – but now you are getting near August [for a recovery time],” Meyer said. “That’s getting late because it’s a five-month recovery. It’s a six-month injury. The second thing, you can not throw.”

Although Lawrence didn’t really have anything to prove, he didn’t like the second option. He wanted to have a showcase, but he agreed with Meyer that waiting until the March 11 pro day — which would mean putting off his surgery until sometime after March 11 — would push his recovery too far into the summer. So then, as Meyer recounted, “I said why don’t you just grab the ball and go throw for a little bit? I’d like to send our coordinator and passing-game coordinator to watch. They’ve never seen him. I’ve seen him, so he said, ‘Let’s go.'”

Lawrence was predictably brilliant at his pro day, so even if the Jags had any questions about his abilities, they probably don’t now. Along with Meyer, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer were in attendance. Jacksonville is probably still a year or two away from playoff contention, but the expectation is that having Lawrence under center will accelerate the team’s rebuild quite a bit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Director Of Sports Performance Chris Doyle Resigns

A day after joining the Jaguars staff, Chris Doyle has announced his resignation. The Jaguars announced last night that the embattled coach has resigned as their director of sports performance.

“Chris Doyle came to us this evening to submit his resignation and we have accepted,” said a statement from Jaguars coach Urban Meyer and GM Trent Baalke. “Chris did not want to be a distraction to what we are building in Jacksonville. We are responsible for all aspects of our program and, in retrospect, should have given greater consideration to how his appointment may have affected all involved. We wish him the best as he moves forward in his career.”

The hiring led to immediate backlash after it was announced on Thursday. During his time as the strength coach at the University of Iowa, Doyle was accused of making racist remarks and belittling players, and he left the school with a $1.1MM separation agreement last summer. Doyle has continued to deny any “unethical behavior,” while Meyer indicated that Doyle’s presence of his staff wouldn’t be an issue.

On Friday evening, the Fritz Pollard Alliance denounced the Jaguars and Meyer for the hiring, noting that Doyle’s “conduct should be as disqualifying for the NFL as it was for University of Iowa.”

“Urban Meyer’s statement, ‘I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years’ reflects the good ol’ boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches,” their statement said (via ESPN’s Michael DiRocco).

Doyle had been with Iowa since 1999, and he established himself as one of the highest-paid strength coaches in the country. Following his ouster, he received 15 months salary and benefits from the school.

Updated 2021 NFL Draft Order

With the Divisional Round in the books, the 2021 NFL Draft order is mostly complete. The Rams, Browns, Ravens, and Saints now have their draft spots locked in, though the Rams’ first-round pick belongs to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. The Rams traded those rights to Jacksonville as a part of the Jalen Ramsey blockbuster.

Here’s the updated draft order, through the top 28:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints

Latest On Jaguars Coaching Staff

With Urban Meyer officially joining the Jaguars as their new head coach, his staff is beginning to take shape. One name that has emerged as an offensive coordinator candidate is Scott Linehan, according to Todd Archer and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport echoes this sentiment (on Twitter), noting that Linehan “is the favorite” for the gig.

The 57-year-old Linehan has had a long coaching career, including a stint as the head coach of the Rams. He’s been an offensive coordinator with four different organizations (Vikings, Dolphins, Lions, Cowboys), and his most recent NFL gig saw him leading the offense in Dallas. After spending a year away from football in 2019, Linehan served as the passing-game coordinator for LSU in 2020.

While Meyer and Linehan have never worked alongside each other, their lengthy stints in the collegiate ranks has established a camaraderie between the two (per Fowler).

Let’s check out more coaching notes out of Jacksonville…

  • For the defensive coordinator vacancy, Meyer is eyeing Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen, with Rapoport describing Cullen as the “top target.” Cullen actually served as the Jaguars defensive line coach from 2010 and 2012. Following brief stints with the Browns and Buccaneers, the coach found a home in Baltimore. The 53-year-old has served as Baltimore’s defensive line coach since 2016, and he’s played a major role in the development of Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, and Timmy Jernigan.
  • Ryan Stamper will be joining the Jaguars as director of player assessment, per Pete Thamel of Yahoo (on Twitter). Stamper, a Jacksonville native, has spent the past nine years serving as the ‘assistant athletic director, player development’ with Ohio State. Meyer, who served as Ohio State’s head coach from 2012 through 2018, had previously made it clear that we wouldn’t poach the Buckeyes’ staff, but Stamper was apparently an exception. Stamper also played for Meyer at Florida.
  • Charlie Strong is heading to Jacksonville, likely as the team’s linebackers coach, per Brett McMurphy of Stadium (via Twitter). Following stints as head coach of Louisville, Texas, and South Florida, the 60-year-old Strong spent the 2020 season serving as a defensive analyst for Alabama.

Latest On Jaguars’ QB Plans, Roster Control

The Jaguars became the team to lure Urban Meyer to the NFL. Their situation — two first-round picks and a projected league-high in cap space — helped lead to the former national championship-winning head coach making the college-to-pro jump.

Meyer, 56, described the Jags’ draft capital and cap situation as “huge” in convincing him to try his hand in the NFL. He will be the sixth head coach in franchise history and second to come directly out of the college ranks, following Tom Coughlin in 1995.

I think Shad [Khan] and the organization is positioned, and it’s not by accident,” Meyer said Friday. “Shad got very involved in the entire roster, etc. And I think it’s primed. l think it’s primed to put together a good team. People that know me, I’m not going to jump into a situation where I don’t believe we can win. I won’t do that. I think everything is here.”

Jacksonville defeated Indianapolis in Week 1 but lost 15 straight games to secure the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft. The team’s roster has numerous holes, but quarterback will become the franchise’s chief priority. Trevor Lawrence has long expected to be the first name called in the 2021 draft. Meyer has been high on the Clemson superstar, but he also invoked Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields — whom Buckeyes HC successor Ryan Day coached — and BYU passer Zach Wilson when asked about the top pick.

While the Jaguars have employed a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback (Mark Brunell) and used three first-round picks on passers (Byron Leftwich, Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles), the franchise’s highest-profile signal-caller will almost certainly arrive in April. Meyer’s comments make it extremely unlikely the Jaguars will do anything else with the pick than select a passer.

You see Trevor, you see Justin, you see Zach, this is going to be, as Shad said, this is a monumental moment for this franchise,” Meyer said. “… Who we pick at that quarterback spot, that’s going to be one of the most important decisions I’ve made in my lifetime, along with the partnership of our owner and our general manager. And the ones that are out there, my initial study, because I have been studying a lot, I like to use the term elite, I see some elite quarterbacks out there right now.”

Khan caused a few waves earlier this month when he said he will maintain control over the Jaguars’ 53-man roster, rather than ceding it to a GM. The owner attempted to push back on that, insisting Meyer will run the show. It appears Jacksonville’s to-be-determined GM will be answering to the new head coach.

The issue of roster control is more technical or symbolic,” Khan said. “My whole aspect, and this started really about 15 months ago, is that we need to be a coach-centric team and organization, where the head coach has to lead the kinds of players he wants, the kind of team we need to be. And the general manager and myself, we have to support that vision.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-21 (7:05pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles