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The Urban Meyer experiment in Jacksonville has taken another turn for the worse, with multiple run-ins with players and coaches taking place recently, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The events have left many around league circles questioning if Meyer will make it after one season. The Jaguars are 2-10, with Meyer repeatedly shifting blame to players and coaches. Events that have taken place in the past couple weeks show a locker room that appears to be losing faith in Meyer.
Pelissero reports that respected veteran and receiver Marvin Jones was so angry and frustrated with Meyer’s constant criticism of the receiver group, that he left the team facility. He had to be convinced by staff members to return and when he did, got into a heated argument at practice with Meyer.
Meyer reportedly scolded his entire coaching staff at a meeting, delivering the message that he’s a winner and his assistants are losers. The three-time National Champion head coach called out each coach individually to explain why they’ve never won and forced them to defend their résumés.
And then there was the 37-7 blowout loss to the Rams last Sunday. As bad as it was for Jacksonville to lose in that manner, Meyer’s questionable handling of running back James Robinson became the focus. Following a first quarter fumble, Robinson was benched for 20 plays. He returned later in the game, only after rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a conversation on the sideline with Meyer.
Robinson saw just eight carries, with three coming in the final two minutes of the game. Why’s that significant, you ask? After the game, Meyer said Robinson was not benched, but rather injured. The following day, he was asked why Robinson was put back in the game if he was injured. His response only left more questions.
“That’s a good question,” Meyer said.
Per ESPN’s Michael DiRocco, Lawrence said on Wednesday that Robinson needs to play more than he has recently.
“In my eyes, obviously, I’m the one that’s out, see all the pieces moving, I see the whole picture,” Lawrence said. “Bottom line is James is one of our best players and he’s got to be on the field and we addressed it, and I feel like we’re in a good spot and the whole team, we’re good. Whatever may have happened, I honestly don’t even know everything that went into it.
“I’m playing the game and stuff happens on the sideline with coaching decisions. I don’t really get into that, but I know and I voiced my opinion: James is one of our best players and he’s got to be in the game. I think we’re all on the same page, so there’s no confusion there. We’re going to move forward. I know James is a hell of a player, so I want him out there.”
After the game, Pelissero notes that several players vented to Rams players, saying that Meyer doesn’t treat them like adults. Such was a common concern with how Meyer, who had no prior NFL experience, would adjust to coaching in a different environment.
The latest events follow the events of October, when Meyer went viral for all the wrong reasons. Following a Week 4 24-21 loss to the Bengals, Meyer didn’t board the team flight back to Jacksonville, opting to remain in Ohio instead. Video showed Meyer, who is married, with another girl dancing on his lap. Meyer received widespread criticism for the incident, including from his team and owner Shad Khan.
“I appreciate Urban’s remorse, which I believe is sincere. Now he must regain our trust and respect,” Khan said in a statement. “That will require a personal commitment from Urban to everyone who supports, represents or plays for our team. I am confident he will deliver.”