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Everyone is seemingly reacting to the weird, sad post-game handshake Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer offered Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel after a 20-0 whitewashing on Sunday.
It was especially curious considering Vrabel worked with and under Meyer on the Ohio State coaching staff years ago.
But the Meyer story today is not really about the handshake.
It’s about a steady decline of confidence people within the Jaguars organization have in Meyer. It’s about people within the organization — mostly within the personnel department — turning on Meyer and giving information to various people both inside and outside the organization who in turn leaked to the media this weekend.
At its core, the story is really whether Urban Meyer will survive his first year in the NFL as the Jaguars’ coach or be one-and-done.
And on that score, it’s clear Jaguars ownership, which earlier this season had to speak about its trust and respect of Meyer being shaken after the coach’s Ohio bar partying, will have to evaluate whether Meyer remains the right man atop the football side of the organization after this season.
Jags owner Shad Khan, who has been a Meyer fan and supporter, is hoping the season’s final month shows improvement on multiple fronts so his hiring of Meyer won’t seem like another mistake in an already extended line of questionable hires.
Khan would rather not be forced to fire his coach after facing a mountain of reasons to do exactly that, per a source.
But Meyer is making it difficult with the results on the field that suggest players are tuning him out and not playing for him. And then there’s his people skills.
Those questionable skills led to an NFL Network report that cited a heated argument with receiver Marvin Jones and an incident in which Meyer called his assistants “losers” while telling them he’s a winner.
Meyer responded to those issues after the loss to Tennessee. And, by the way, it didn’t go great.
“Yeah, calling someone a loser, that’s inaccurate,” Meyer said. “I have high expectations for our coaches. I’m very demanding of our coaches and expect guys to be held accountable for their positions, and the times when they’re not, we address it.
“Marvin Jones had a conversation because he came to me and said that there was something in the media, and I said, ‘What’s that?’ And I didn’t read it, and he said that people were blaming the receivers for all the issues on offense … We talked about that, and he’s great. We moved on, and he just — one thing about Marvin, and there’s a lot of players, especially these professional veterans, there’s a lot of pride.
“Some guys aren’t used to this, and he’s one of them. But he’s fantastic and we have a fantastic relationship, and I started hearing that, and Marvin looked at me — he walked by yesterday when I saw something on TV, like a heated argument, and he goes, ‘I guess we’re not allowed to talk anymore, are we?’ and started laughing about it. So there’s nothing.”
Well there are leaks. In fact, there’s a flood within the Jaguars organization from people who obviously want Meyer gone.
“I’ve been very blessed. I’ve not really dealt with that,” Meyer said. “I’ve not dealt with, ‘Well, did you hear what he said?’ What? No. Let’s improve on offense and get our quarterback in a position to be successful. That’s our focus.
“What someone’s brother said, or someone said someone said, that will occupy very little of my time. And if there is a source, that source is unemployed. I mean, within seconds, if there’s some source that’s doing that.”
Broncos Remember Demaryius Thomas In Amazing Way
The best thing we saw on Sunday was how the Denver Broncos opened their game with a tribute to fallen former star and teammate Demaryius Thomas, who died last week at the age of 33.
A touchback on the opening kickoff gave the Broncos the football at their own 25 yard line and coach Vic Fangio sent 10 players onto the field for the first play.
The 10 men, signaling the obvious absence of the fallen Thomas, stood motionless until the play clock ran out.
The Broncos were called for delay of game and Detroit coach Dan Campbell declined the penalty.
It was thoughtful and heartfelt and, well, perfect.
“I talked to Dan Campbell and he agreed not to accept the penalty, a classy move on his part,” Denver coach Vic Fangio said.
The coach added that even referee John Hussey was aware and “in on” allowing the penalty.
“He [Fangio] reached out to me [the day before the game], which I appreciated,” Campbell said. “That was for him. That’s for DT. That’s who I did that for.”
The Broncos scored on that opening possession that included the 10-man tribute.
And Thomas’s memory was everywhere on Sunday. The final Denver drive that led to a touchdown went 88 yards, the number jersey Thomas wore.
The Broncos beat the Lions in this game. The Broncos’ organization, stricken by grief following the Thomas passing, showed great grace from start to finish.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero