Over the last several weeks, Jacksonville has become one of the centers of the football world. Not because the Jags are competing for a playoff spot — or doing anything spectacular on the field — but because they've locked up the number one overall pick in a year with some truly elite quarterback prospects.
Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence, the consensus top two quarterbacks in the 2021 draft class, put on a show in a head to head matchup on Friday, resulting in a resounding Ohio State victory and a shot at the national title next week. The drama intensified in Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon. According to Ian Rapoport, former Ohio State and Florida head coach Urban Meyer "expects to land in Jacksonville."
But the Jaguars still have a head coach currently on the staff. Despite coaching a sub-par overall roster, Doug Marrone has done an admiral job. But he's expected to be relieved of his duties in the coming days, following the Jaguars' season finale against the Colts.
Jaguars' owner Shad Khan is rumored to be interested in landing his next head coach before hiring a new general manager for their vacant GM job. It's not the most conventional route, but there is precedent for it.
And if Urban Meyer is the apple of Khan's eye, as Rapoport's sources suggest, it'd be hard not to consider the hire a home run. It'd be flashy, to say the least. Meyer has a long history of success at building elite programs and always gets the most out of his quarterbacks. He's won three national titles and coached college stars like Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones, and Joe Burrow.
The one primary concern with Meyer is longevity and health. In 2010, health concerns caused Meyer to retire from Florida after just six seasons. Only two years later, he signed on to coach Ohio State, and almost like clockwork, Meyer retired after seven seasons with the Buckeyes, citing health as the only reason for stepping away. But it's hard not to question whether the Zach Smith scandal (more about that here) had something to do with Meyer's early retirement. At the very least, it raises questions about Urban's integrity.
These concerns are understandably worrisome for some. If I were Shad Khan, Meyer would be properly vetted from a health perspective, and we'd dig into his history of not handling certain situations properly. Has he learned from past mistakes? But Meyer's stellar track record as a coach on the field includes 187 wins and just 32 losses. His offenses have proven extremely difficult to stop at every program he's been with. And his ability to get the most out of quarterbacks should be particularly intriguing, as the Jaguars are slated to select a generational QB talent with the top pick in the 2021 draft.
Urban Meyer would bring a certain level of clout with him and could make Jacksonville even more attractive to prospective free agents, coaches, and executives. But if the Meyer hype is more exaggerated than fact, there are plenty of other potential head coaches out there for the Jaguars to choose from. Brian Daboll, Joe Brady, Jim Caldwell, and Arthur Smith would be among my favorites.
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