Impact of Urban Meyer firing on Jaguars’ line

Well, it finally happened. Late on Wednesday night, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired Urban Meyer. It was a chaotic and somewhat entertaining tenure for the former Jaguars coach. There’s no denying the fact that his college dominance did not transfer to the NFL. Reports of him literally kicking his former kicker during pregame warmups seemed to be the final nail in Meyer’s coffin. 

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will take over as interim head coach. Bevell served as interim coach for the Lions last year, going 1-4. Despite the poor record for the interim coach, the betting market seems to think the Jaguars are in a better place today than they were a few days ago.

Jaguars become bigger favorites

The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently a 4-point favorite over the Houston Texans. This line is quickly on the move across the industry, as the Jaguars were just 3-point favorites earlier in the week. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this line move to the Jaguars laying 5 points or even more by kickoff. 

So what’s the reason for the line movement? Why are bettors rushing to back a 2-11 team with an interim coach who has no real history of success?

The obvious answer is the firing of Urban Meyer. Coaching changes always give teams a spark, but getting rid of a coach who appears to have been grating on players and staff could have an even bigger positive impact. The players could feel “freed” and want to show out. 

Getting rid of a distraction is also a plus. Meyer was in the news almost every week, whether it was for grinding on a younger girl, calling his assistant coaches losers, fighting his No. 1 receiver or kicking his kicker. Not having to deal with those questions can only be a plus. 

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 12: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at Nissan Stadium on December 12, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Firing Urban Meyer has improved Jacksonville’s perception in the betting market. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Player usage has also been a problem many have had with the Jaguars this season. James Robinson was one of the best running backs in the league last season during his rookie year. This year, he’s been splitting duties with Carlos Hyde. He hasn’t gotten the ball much and he’s been benched at times. Rookie QB Trevor Lawrence had to go out of his way to say he wants Robinson on the field.

Additionally, the Jaguars have been using wide receivers like Laquon Treadwell and Tavon Austin while failing to utilize a young, highly regarded receiver like Laviska Shenault. Shenault has a unique skillset, but he’s been forced to play outside wide receiver when he clearly isn’t built to play that role. The offense should be built around young promising players like Shenault and Robinson, rather than has-beens or never-was players like Hyde, Treadwell or Austin. With Meyer out of the picture, there’s hope to see talent better utilized. 

Is this enough for the Jaguars to have a statement win against the lowly Texans? The market seems to think so. The lack of Urban Meyer has made Jacksonville a much more appealing team to bettors.