When the Jacksonville Jaguars hired Urban Meyer as the club’s new head coach, it was understood there would be a learning curve. Meyer, as celebrated and accomplished as he has been in coaching, has never coached a NFL team before. The league is vastly different than the college ranks, primarily because of rules that govern the offseason and practice. The NFL Players Association has set up protections for players that limit what all can be done in practice, especially during the offseason.
Meyer received a crash course in this reality at the beginning of July, when he and the Jaguars were hit with fines and penalties for violations during an offseason practice. Specifically, for organized team activities (OTA’s) violations.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Jaguars were fined $200,000, while Meyer was fined $100,000 as the team's head coach. As a result of the violation–in addition to the fine—the Jaguars must forfeit two OTA practices during the first week of the 2022 offseason. This also according to Schefter.
“The Jaguars are vigilant about practicing within the CBA rules and will re-emphasize offseason training rules as they relate to contact," the Jaguars said at the time, via Mark Long of the Associated Press.
There was speculation at the time that the violations had to do with physicality in a practice that was supposed to be light. On Wednesday, following the first practice of Jag’s training camp, Meyer told local media that after receiving the fine, he wanted to know what it was for as well. The coach said he “thought we did a heck of a job. We gave them every third day off.”
The team often boasted full attendance in offseason workouts, voluntary and mandatory. With a full team, the practices pulsed with competition. Still, the Jaguars worked to stay within the rules, according to Meyer. The Jags were sent eight specific plays by the NFLPA, which were the ones that led to fines.
"The eight plays were defenders going after a ball. I want to say three times through incidental contact,” explained Meyer on Wednesday.
In an effort to not repeat mistakes as the new NFL coach is still learning, the Jaguars have shifted away from press coverage for the time being in practice since, according to Meyer, "that's where most of the stuff was.”
The Jaguars put a significant emphasis on the secondary in free agency and the NFL Draft. With so many new faces, all working to learn the defense under new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, guys need training camp to prove their place on the roster. And when they returned, they asked coaches what the fine was for, according to the coach. So they shared the eight plays. As such, Meyer says they haven’t fought back too much on the lack of press coverage in practice for now.
As Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars navigate the 2021 offseason, with the new coach getting a lesson in the different rules in the NFL, they now have eight plays to fall back on, as an example of what not to do.
“To be honest with you, about four of them, you're like—,”questioned Meyer, pulling a confused face.
“But rules are rules and so we're gonna follow the rules.”