Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST.
JACKSONVILLE -4½ +100 over Houston
1:00 PM EST. We start doing our weekly write-ups on Tuesday or Wednesday so when Urban Meyer was fired late Wednesday evening, everything we wanted to discuss was already written on paper, thus, this was our write-up before Urban Meyer was fired:
This story is not about the Texans. This story is all about the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that is gaining quite a reputation for being the worst franchise in professional sports. By now you have either read, seen on TV or heard on the radio all the dysfunction surrounding Urban Meyer and his Jaguars. Don’t say we didn’t see it coming because we wrote about it in Week 1 and haven’t relented since. Dude is a narcissistic piece of work that bullied his way through some of the most fertile recruiting regions in America. Now the entire country is calling for his head.
Months of tension surrounding Urban Meyer has boiled over with multiple run-ins with players and other coaches in recent weeks, sources say, renewing questions in league circles about whether Meyer's stay in Jacksonville could end after just one tumultuous season. Sources say Meyer's repeated public comments shifting blame to players and coaches amid the team's 2-10 season have exacerbated frustration in the building with his hard-charging and sometimes condescending approach -- a style that many observers believed wouldn't work in the NFL even before the Jaguars hired him.
Entering Sunday's visit to Tennessee, the Jaguars have lost four games in a row and five out of six since their Week 7 bye, averaging just 10 points per game in that span. One of their best players, running back James Robinson, was benched last week under clouded circumstances. Franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence -- who has shown flashes of why Jacksonville selected him No. 1 overall in April's draft -- is completing just 58% of his passes for 2,514 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. And while the Jaguars opted not to fire Meyer in October after he stayed in Ohio instead of taking the team plane home after a Week 4 loss to the Bengals, only to be captured in viral videos at a bar with a young woman who's not his wife dancing close to his lap, sources say Meyer hasn't adjusted his approach.
In the past two weeks alone, here’s some of the reports:
Receiver Marvin Jones -- one of the locker room's most respected and mild-mannered veterans -- became so angry with Meyer's public and private criticism of the receiver group that he left the facility until other staff members convinced him to come back and had a heated argument with Meyer during practice.
During a staff meeting, Meyer delivered a biting message that he's a winner and his assistant coaches are losers, according to several people informed of the contents of the meeting, challenging each coach individually to explain when they've ever won and forcing them to defend their résumés.
Contrary to his public statements that it was injury-related, Meyer ordered Robinson's benching after an opening-drive fumble in the team’s 37-7 road loss to the Rams, then had running backs coach Bernie Parmalee stop Robinson from re-entering the game, insisting Carlos Hyde (who played for Meyer at Ohio State) stay in. Only after Lawrence questioned Meyer on the sideline about Robinson's absence was Robinson allowed to return late in the second quarter. (Speaking to reporters this week, Lawrence said: "Bottom line is James is one of our best players and he's got to be on the field and we addressed it, and I feel like we're in a good spot and the whole team, we're good.")
Several Jaguars players vented their frustration to Rams players after that game, sources say, reiterating a common complaint that Meyer -- who had no prior NFL experience -- doesn't treat them like adults. And the staff meeting follows a pattern of tense interactions between Meyer and his assistants dating back to the offseason. After opening the preseason with consecutive losses, for instance, sources say Meyer informed assistants that he was sick of being embarrassed and if the team didn't start winning immediately, some of them wouldn't be around for a second year.
There has been staff turnover since Meyer arrived in January, for a variety of reasons. Meyer's hand-picked strength and conditioning coach, Chris Doyle, resigned under pressure in February after renewed focus on the allegations of racial remarks that had led to Doyle's separation agreement at the University of Iowa in 2020. Special teams coordinator Brian Schneider took a leave of absence in May for personal reasons and did not return. Meyer's chief of staff, Fernando Lovo, left the team last month to return to the University of Texas. Tight ends coach Tyler Bowen is expected to become offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, according to college sports and recruiting site On3.com. And more staff changes are expected after the season, even assuming Meyer stays.
We don’t know what’s true and what’s not but what we know 100% for sure is that where there is smoke there is fire. Urban Meyer is going to go down as the most hated coach by his players in NFL history. Dude is a self-serving, bully who has no appreciation for anything or anyone. He cares about one person and one person only but more importantly, this entire story and dysfunction is all over social media, which brings us to this game this week v the Texans.
We’re not crazy over here, friends. When we see the Jags not only favored but favored by -3½, you don’t think we want to take the points and run like hell? Of course we do. On Wednesday of this week, the Jags were -3 and -125, which means the books were doing everything they possibly could to deter one from even thinking of betting on the Jagwires. Who in their right mind wants to take Jax and spot extra vig along with the points? Nobody, that's who. Come Sunday, we don’t know where this price is going to land but we are keeping a close eye on it because it is very much on our radar. Combine the negative press with the Jags pathetic record and performance every week, then add in a plethora of dysfunctionality to go along with its already non-existent market appeal and we ask you one more time, Who the f**k is spotting points with the Jags this week? Us, that’s who.
Well, we thought we were done with this writeup but the game now has a new tone. You see 'Urban Meyer threatened to fire the coaching staff every week, while creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust.' Isn’t that equivalent to being in prison? Darrell Bevell being named interim coach is 'wildly popular' in Jaguars building. The replacement for Urban Meyer is viewed as the 'polar opposite' in terms of leadership style, while being described as 'collegial, hard-working and very well-liked.
If the Jaguars were -3½ with Urban Meyer, a dude they didn’t want to play for and despised, they should be -10 without him. One can only imagine the exuberance every player in that Jags locker room is feeling. That feeling can best be described as walking out of prison as a free man but there is one last task at hand. There is one final way for the players on the Jags to absolutely shame/stick it to Urban Meyer on his way out and that would be to destroy the team they play the week he was fired. There is not going to be an NFL team more jacked up this week than the Jaguars and they couldn’t have handpicked a more ripe team to run the score up on.
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JACKSONVILLE -4½ +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)