Would Urban Meyer fit in the pros?
With Black Monday looming in the NFL, that is a question a handful of franchises might be asking.
Meyer is one of the most successful coaches in college football history. He’s one of 15 coaches with at least three national championships, and he has the third highest-winning percentage all time at .854.
Meyer, 56, has spent the last two seasons as an analyst on FOX’s ”Big Noon Kickoff” show, but the NFL rumors have ticked up in recent weeks. Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Pete Carroll are the only three coaches who have won national titles and Super Bowls as a head coach.
Several of Meyer’s former Ohio State players are scattered across the NFL now, but Meyer’s last two stints ended because of health concerns. The NFL comes with different challenges than the college game, too.
Is Meyer ready for that challenge? Which NFL teams would fit? Here is a closer look at the three best matches.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
On Wednesday, the Toledo Blade’s Kyle Rowland reported that Meyer is eyeing the Jacksonville job. Jacksonville is 1-14 this season, and fourth-year coach Doug Marrone is 12-35 since leading the Jaguars to a 10-6 record and AFC championship appearance in 2017.
Would Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan be willing to take a chance on Meyer? The Blade reports Meyer owns a home in Florida. The Jaguars job might come with less pressure than his past two college coaching stops at power-house programs in Florida and Ohio State.
Of course, Meyer could start fresh with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which is expected to be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Could Meyer have success in the AFC South?
For what it’s worth, former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien led the Texans to four playoff appearances in the last five year. O’Brien had experience as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. Pat McAfee addressed the Meyer speculation on the ”Pat McAfee Show.”
The sentiment here seems to be, “Why not?” Meyer’s departure from Florida was unceremonious, but the Gators are having success again with one of his former assistants in Dan Mullen.
Of the possible openings, this one still makes the most sense. Every other NFL job feels like a reach, but we’ll go ahead and stretch out.
2. Detroit Lions
Would Meyer – who wouldn’t even say the word ”Michigan” during his tenure with the Buckeyes – fit in that state at the professional level?
That’s more of a question for the fan base. Meyer did dominate Michigan with a 7-0 record while at Ohio State, but what does that really have to do with the NFL?
Former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman was hired as a special assistant to Detroit owner Sheila Ford Hamp in the search, and that is led to speculation that the Lions would be willing to pursue Meyer for the job.
The Lions can’t be that picky. The franchise has not won a playoff game since 1991. Spielman was a Pro Bowl linebacker on that team, and it will interesting to see where his influence takes the coaching search.
Detroit is 14-32-1 the last three seasons under Matt Patricia and interim coach Darrell Bevell. Chicago and Green Bay have won the division the last three seasons with first-time coaches Matt Nagy and Matt LaFleur, and the Lions have struggled to keep up with those franchises.
Veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford – who played against Meyer’s Florida teams in college while at Georgia – is under contract for the next two seasons.
Could Meyer be the unexpected answer in the Mitten State. It would be a wild card.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Anthony Lynn might be saving his job with a late-season winning streak. If the Chargers do move on, however, then Meyer becomes an interesting candidate.
He would be paired with quarterback Justin Herbert, who has enjoyed a record-breaking rookie season. The defense is led by former Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, who has 7.5 sacks this season. Los Angeles has a talented roster, but the pieces haven’t fit the last few seasons.
Would Meyer be the right coach to bring that together? Owner Dean Spanos would be taking a risk, but it might be worth taking.
The Chargers made their only Super Bowl appearance in 1994 under coach Bobby Ross, who won the Coaches Poll national championship with Georgia Tech in 1990. It’s not like it can’t happen again.
Keep an eye on …
New York Jets
It’s a big stage, and the Jets are in line to get the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Would a Meyer-Justin Fields pairing take off at the next level?
Interim coach Raheem Morris is a candidate for the job, but the Falcons already tried the college approach with Bobby Petrino. It failed miserably. That has nothing to do with Meyer, but this seems like an unlikely match.
This requires moving on from second-year coach Zac Taylor, but Meyer would be reunited with former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow. Meyer’s son Nate also plays for the Cincinnati Bearcats. We don’t think Cincinnati would go in this direction.