It finally happened. The Jacksonville Jaguars announced the firing of head coach Urban Meyer late Wednesday night, bringing an end to the most tumultuous head coaching tenure in NFL history. Jaguars owner Shad Khan swung for the fences when he awarded Meyer with a lucrative five-year coaching contract in January of this year. Meyer didn't even make it through the first year. His last game in charge of Jacksonville was truly fitting in a completely incompetent showing against the Tennessee Titans that ended in a 20-0 shutout.
Meyer continuously alienated his coaching staff and players while building a rather toxic work environment. In 11 short months, Meyer found himself in countless controversial situations. It began with the incredibly insensitive hiring of former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and ended with a former player (kicker Josh Lambo) claiming to have been kicked and verbally harassed while on the job. In-between, Meyer undeservingly signed his old pal Tim Tebow, was caught under the influence in a dive bar with a woman that wasn't his wife, consistently berated a coaching staff he hired, and so, so much more.
It will go down as the worst coaching hire in the history of professional football. Jacksonville must now move on and find a candidate much more suitable to lead their franchise. Rookie franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence makes this job somewhat appealing. Here are three head coaching candidates Jacksonville could target.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more suitable candidate that's readily available than former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Khan will undeniably weigh an abundance of factors when making this franchise-changing decision, and Pederson should check all of the boxes on his list. A players-first coach that's capable of gaining the respect of the locker room is first and foremost after Meyer shattered relationships with so many of his players. A former NFL quarterback himself, Pederson is a leader of men that treats players with respect.
Secondly, the next head coach will be tasked with developing Lawrence. Rookie quarterbacks are fragile, and Lawrence's initial professional campaign hasn't exactly gone to plan. Meyer's failure to build an appropriate relationship with his franchise signal-caller was one of several reasons that led to his timely firing. Pederson possesses a brilliant offensive mind, one that could create a scheme for Lawrence to thrive in as a sophomore and beyond.
Pederson was in charge of the Eagles for five years. They made the playoffs three times, won two division titles, and reigned victorious in Super Bowl LII. He would be an outstanding hire for Lawrence and Jaguars fans.
Eric Bieniemy is long overdue for an opportunity to lead an NFL franchise. Kansas City's current offensive coordinator has experienced an overwhelming amount of success since taking the job in 2018. Bieniemy has helped Andy Reid build a winning culture while assisting Reid in crafting an offense that's virtually been unstoppable for several seasons. The Chiefs have made two Super Bowls in a row, winning one, and a third straight appearance appears very much within the realm of possibility in 2021.
Jaguars owner Khan actually interviewed Bieniemy for their head coaching gig before unfortunately landing on Meyer. They've passed on him once, but should seriously reconsider his candidacy now that the job has become open once again. Reid has continuously advocated for Bieniemy to receive a head coaching opportunity.
Bieniemy's track record with Patrick Mahomes should be more than enough to garner consideration. Lawrence could certainly use an offensive genius on the sidelines. Bieniemy fits the mold.
The only defensive-minded coach to make this list, Khan actually showed a fair amount of interest in hiring Raheem Morris before making the wrong decision with Meyer, who then nearly recruited Morris to become his defensive coordinator. Khan must embark on a journey to fix a broken locker room, and few men are capable of repairing an organization as Morris can.
A two-time former head coach with 59 games of regular-season experience as the head honcho, Morris has a long record as a respected leader. There is no question he could walk into a young Jaguars' locker room that is currently damaged and immediately establish the new culture that is so desperately needed.
Morris is currently in charge of a Rams defense that is allowing just 22.5 points per contest. Morris is a proven winner that earned a Super Bowl ring for his duty as a member of Tampa Bay's coaching staff in the early 2000s and came close to capturing a second title as a member of Atlanta's coaching staff. Morris' candidacy would likely hinge on his ability to land a respected offensive coordinator, as the Lawrence angle of all this can't be ignored.
The magnitude of this hire goes beyond offensive-minded versus defensive-minded. It should be about landing the best possible candidate to usher in a new era. Morris should be near the top of Khan's wishlist.