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Urban Meyer’s uncompromising approach toward coaching in the NFL, opting for the college football mold he mastered, became a recipe that flamed out after 13 games.
While the coach didn’t do much to earn grace from critics in his first year as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11), Meyer holds firm to the idea that his decisions were made in a sincere attempt to bring back the Jags from a history of losing.
While the critics may still be aggravated by the misconduct and all off-the-field headlines stirred by the coach, Meyer wants everyone to know that the role was never taken for granted.
“It’s heart-breaking,” Meyer told Pelissero via phone interview. “I just had a dream of it becoming a destination place with a new facility he agreed to build and some day to walk into that stadium where it’s standing room only. Because I know how bad the people of Jacksonville want it. So, I’m just heartbroken that we weren’t able to do that. I still believe it’s going to be done. It’s too good of a place.”
He also went into the disconnect between coaching and rookie Trevor Lawrence’s development that was a detriment to his first year in the League.
“He’s going to be great. He’s 22 years old, thrust into a place that lost 15 straight games. … I just think we could’ve done better. But there is zero doubt Trevor is going to be a great NFL quarterback,” Meyer said.
Meyer clarified how his allegedly rigid attitude toward players may now be deemed too traditional a method for the modern athlete.
“You push people really hard to find their greatness, but you treat them like gold. I thought that’s what we’re gonna do and we’re gonna win. It was really going good for a while,” Meyer admitted, before going into how the culture shift has drastically changed the threshold for uncouth instruction that players are willing to receive.
“I think college has changed quite a bit, too,” Meyer expressed. “Just society has changed. You think how hard you pushed. … I believe there is greatness in everybody and it’s the coach’s job to find that greatness however you do that. Positive encouragement. Pushing them to be greater, making them work harder, identifying flaws and trying to fix [them]. I think everything is so fragile right now.”
Aware of the chatter involving the Jags coaching staff’s problems with the HC, Meyer articulated how communication with coaches has also changed over the years.
“… And that includes coaching staffs. When I got into coaching, coaches weren’t making this kind of money and they didn’t have agents. Everything is so fragile where it used to be team, team, team. I remember talking about it in a staff meeting three days ago. I got into this profession because I had the greatest high school coach and it was all about team. All about the huddle.”
Addressing the firing, Jags owner Shad Khan has sounded regretful for seemingly going all-in on Meyer from the start. Meyer stated that his bond and understanding with Khan remains a thorn in his side after all the headlines.
“I love our owner Shad; Shad’s a great man. Two reasons I took the job: One for him, the second reason was I loved Jacksonville and wanted to help turn around an organization that had been struggling.”
The Jags now turn to former Seahawks and Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to help the team reach the finish line and finally put this demanding season behind them.
As for Meyer, he’ll continue “To be determined” in finding a path back to coaching.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela