The Jacksonville Jaguars are, again, one of the laughingstocks of the NFL.
In a year in which the Jaguars believed they were finally taking the long-awaited right step toward building a strong foundation, the Jaguars' franchise is instead resting on a house of cards, seemingly becoming more and more unstable by the passing week and headline.
In a year in which rookie quarterbacks and head coaches are struggling but still finding ways to win, the Jaguars are one of two winless teams left in the NFL.
In a year in which the Jaguars had ample cap space and draft picks, the Jaguars' roster looks, at best, only marginally better than a year ago.
And in a year in which the Jaguars and owner Shad Khan sold themselves on getting a bonafide leader of men and program builder in head coach Urban Meyer, the Jaguars have instead found a coach who has too often become the story and too often looked in over his head.
How can the members of the Jaguars locker room expect Urban Meyer to lead them and be the best thing for their careers when he has yet to show an ability to lead even himself without consequence? That is the question the Jaguars now have to ask, just four games into the former college football legend's NFL tenure.
The Jaguars and owner Shad Khan thought they were getting the ultimate culture man in Meyer. A coach who has won everywhere he has been. A coach who has gotten pure excellence out of every program he has left his fingerprints on.
Instead, the Jaguars have seen Meyer bring their name into headlines for all of the wrong reasons. From the Chris Doyle fiasco to losing future offseason practices over contact violations to failing to have a proper amount of self-control when talking about vaccination statuses of released players, Meyer has too often floundered. He was supposed to be their building block, but has instead been the flimsiest card of the entire deck.
The question of Meyer's ability to lead the Jaguars has, of course, come to a breaking point over the past few days. In the days following the Jaguars' 24-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals (a loss that dropped the Jaguars to 0-4 and was the team's 19th loss in a row), Meyer was seen in viral videos and photos engaging with a woman who was not his wife at a bar in Columbus.
Meyer admitted on Monday that he stayed back in Ohio instead of taking the team plane back, which is unheard of at the NFL level. There is a reason droves and droves of former players have responded with shock at Meyer's decision to remain in Ohio after his team fought and bled for him in an emotional 60-minute loss.
In the days after a game in which Meyer pounded the podium in frustration and looked emotionally and physically drained, Meyer was doing the exact thing he has told his players not to do. Instead of doing his duty as the head coach, Meyer opted to diverge from the path of sensibility and standards of an NFL coach.
Meyer should know better. It is shocking that he doesn't, especially after he has preached accountability, trust and ownership to the Jaguars' locker room and fan base at a non-stop rate since being hired.
Meyer wants the fans to believe the 0-4 start is just a bump in the road and that he isn't in over his head. He wants his players to believe that everyone in the franchise is held accountable, even if it doesn't apply to the head coach.
While the entire Ohio bar fiasco will be seen by many as non-news, it should be noted that it is a major red flag for two reasons.
One reason is that there have now been signs of Meyer already losing his locker room as a result of his loss of credibility, as Michael Silver alluded to. Once a coach loses his locker room, it is normally the sign that things are sliding downhill. To lose the locker room after four games would be doing so at a record pace.
Second, Meyer has seemingly already tested the patience of Khan. Khan is, for my money, the most patient owner in the entire NFL. He trusts the people he hires, and he gives them the chance to dig themselves out of holes they put themselves in. He gives his employees long leashes, for better or worse.
But just four games into the Meyer tenure, Khan has already indicated that Meyer has lost his trust and respect. To lose the respect of Khan just eight months after Khan handed Meyer to keys to a franchise with the potential to explode is staggering.
"I have addressed this matter with Urban. Specifics of our conversation will be held in confidence. What I will say is his conduct last weekend was inexcusable. I appreciate Urban’s remorse, which I believe is sincere. Now, he must regain our trust and respect," Khan said on Tuesday 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.
Meyer has won everywhere he has been except Jacksonville. Now, the controversial coach has continued his controversial ways and has brought losing with it. He has the chance to recover small pieces his reputation and his job this Sunday at home against the Titans. As Khan stated, Meyer will get a shot to win games. But to do that, he has to change.
Perhaps the Jaguars' on-field improvement continues, but it is more important that Meyer improves. This week, the entire focus has been on Meyer instead of on an improving Jaguars team or on Trevor Lawrence's best NFL start thus far. That isn't the fault of the media; that is on Meyer.
The Jaguars are still looking for a strong foundation. Until Meyer proves he can be better, the Jaguars are instead built on a cheap deck of cards that merely has the appearance of a foundation without any of the integrity.