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Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: NFL Execs' Likely Landing Spots for Urban Meyer

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterDecember 25, 2019

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer speaks to the media after the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

If Urban Meyer jumps to the NFL, the question is: Will he succeed? Meantime, as the Cowboys falter, things are looking up for the Chiefs, Lamar, the Patriots and, yes, the Titans.

                   

1. Urban's NFL odds

When asking three team executives if they believe the rumors former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is interested in coaching in the NFL, they tell me they do.

Two of them were more cautious, saying that because Meyer has a huge ego—their words, not mine—he may simply be enjoying people talking about him joining the league.

But even the skeptics agree the Meyer talk is legitimate. They think there's a solid chance that he is coaching in the NFL next season. I'm skeptical, but people in the league whom I trust tell me I'm wrong.

If he does return, where would he go? These team officials gave five possibilities, ranking their likelihood from least possible to most.

Jaguars: A long shot, said one team executive, but not impossible. This executive thinks that if Meyer truly does want to coach in the NFL, this would be the perfect spot. The team has a patient and smart owner (Shad Khan), and in Jacksonville, there won't be nearly as much media scrutiny. 

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Panthers: One team source said to "watch that owner [David Tepper]. He's aggressive and would have no problem throwing a bunch of cash at Meyer." 

Browns: "The odds of him going to Cleveland increase as their losses become more embarrassing," said one NFC front-office executive.

Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones will be desperate after this season, and there's "very real interest" in Meyer, according to NFL Network's Jane Slater. What team officials tell me, however, is they think Meyer will want more personnel control than Jones will allow.

Washington: This month, Meyer was seen in the owner's box with Dan Snyder. Meyer knew exactly what he was doing by being seen like this. He was making as much of a statement as Snyder was. Meyer was saying, "Yeah, I'm curious, so give my agent a ringy dingy."

It was an obvious ploy, and no one would be shocked if Snyder cleaned out the front office and gave Meyer not just the coaching job but also final say over personnel. 

What's clear is that if Meyer really does want to coach in the pros, there won't be a shortage of opportunities. 

                      

2. Can Meyer succeed?

This is the big question. The answer, these team officials say, is complicated.

When Meyer was at Utah, Florida and Ohio State, he was one of the most innovative thinkers in college football history. He'd bring a lot of that innovation to the pros, and his offenses, possibly, would be creative and formidable.

If Meyer were able to coach someone like Lamar Jackson, for example, he would maximize the player's potential the way the Ravens are maximizing Jackson's.

The problem that's been mentioned before is that Meyer's coaching style would have to drastically change. College coaches tell players what to do. Pro coaches explain to players what to do. There's a huge difference.

Players follow the chain of command in the NFL, yet players and coaches are more partners than subservient.

Meyer would have to completely change how he relates to players.

Could Meyer do that? Sure.

Would he want to? That's the question, and we don't yet know the answer.

                                      

3. What came first: chicken or the Cowboy?

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The Cowboys are now 1-6 in one-possession games this season, 2nd-worst in the NFL (Bengals are 0-8). The Cowboys still have a 28% chance to win the NFC East, per FPI. That requires a Cowboys win and Eagles loss next week. https://t.co/O730K2J686

When asking some in the league what's happened to the Cowboys, there are two distinct answers.

Some say the talent on the team, especially the trifecta of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, has been vastly overrated by the league and media. I'm not buying this one.

The other belief is that it's all about Jason Garrett and his terribleness as a head coach.

Ding, ding, ding. That's it. That's the one.

There's one piece of data that shows how many of the Cowboys' problems are about coaching. Dallas is 1-6 in one-possession games this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. That's second-worst in the NFL. The Bengals are 0-8.

Winning close games can be about not having enough good players, but it's more about coaching. Lots of coaches win close games without top players. Mike Tomlin has the Steelers in the playoff hunt despite having a duck and a Mason playing quarterback. 

If Garrett is fired, you will see a marked improvement in the overall play of the team. The players have tuned him out, and that fact is as clear as that cowboy hat on your head.

This team is too talented to not make the postseason. If Garrett leaves, next year, it will. 

                    

4. Chiefs defense is scary

Do you know what defense has been the best in football for weeks now?

Not Baltimore's. Not New England's. Not Chicago's.

It's been Kansas City's.

The Chiefs have given up just 9.6 points per game since Week 11. This defense is peaking at the perfect time.

If they can keep this up, the Chiefs will be almost impossible to beat. One reason why is obvious. It's Sir Patrick Mahomes.

But a low-key reason why is this team—offensively and defensively—is built to play anywhere and in any conditions. The snow, rain, blizzards, hell...anywhere.

The Chiefs were already scary, and with that defense playing so formidably, they are downright frightening.

                                                     

5. Lamar Jackson's running smarts

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

One quick thing on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and why his career is more than sustainable.

Next time you see him run, watch closely, and don't just focus on the beginning or the middle of the run but the end.

Many times, when Jackson is hit, he deflects off the defender. He rarely takes the full brunt of contact, and I guarantee you this is something he's been working on for years. It's a really smart tactic. It's not something he can always control, but many times he can.

This is different from the styles of other running quarterbacks like Steve Young, Michael Vick and Cam Newton. They would often get blasted. Yes, Vick, too.

Jackson puts a lot of energy into avoiding hits, and that will keep him around in this league for lots of years to come.

                                 

6. MVP

A last thing on Jackson. He won't play this week because the Ravens have the top seed in the AFC on lock. The MVP belongs to Jackson, and if there's any doubt, these were his numbers in 15 games.

He completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 113.3.

He had 1,206 rushing yards, seven more scores and averaged 6.9 yards per carry.

This is one of the easiest MVP decisions perhaps ever.

FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 talks to head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots before a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

7. Eleven

Just a quick note that we should all stop for a second and recognize one of the more amazing achievements in league history.

The Patriots won their 11th straight division title.

Eleven.

Elev.

En.

That level of consistency is something we have never seen before in league history. It's highly likely we'll never see it again.

                           

8. Belichick and Brady

If you haven't been watching NFL Network's Top 100 show, you've been missing out. It's one of the best things that network has done.

It's a geekfest for football nerds, and one of the best parts about it is Bill Belichick. If you know Belichick, you know how much he enjoys football history. He's been in his element, and during the shooting of the series, Tom Brady joined him on the set.

The discussion showed the true nature of their relationship. They really like each other.

When Belichick was told how much Brady enjoyed being on the set with his coach, he responded the feeling was mutual. Belichick's comments are long but important.

"I really appreciate the opportunity and was honored to do it, and spending time with Tom on the set was awesome," Belichick said, according to a team transcript. "We've been through so many great moments together, both on and off the field, in terms of the actual football game itself, but all the preparation that leads up to it and the competition that's involved there with other coaches, players, teams and so forth.

"Yeah, it was great to talk about those and think back and reflect on some of the great moments that we've shared together and how much hard work and the other part of the experiences that went into those moments—not just the result of the play, or a game or even a season, but all of the things that you think about. I mean, those things don't just happen. There's miles and miles and miles that are covered before you actually get that final yard, or few yards or whatever it is that determines games and ultimately seasons."

                                     

9. They are Titans

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 15:  Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball against the Houston Texans during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. Houston defeats Tennessee 24-21.  (Photo by Brett
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Unbelievably, if the Titans win this week at Houston, they are in the playoffs. The other scenario where Tennessee could get into the postseason is if Pittsburgh (at Baltimore) loses and Indianapolis (at Jacksonville) loses or ties. 

The Titans have come a long way thanks to quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry. They are one of the best stories in football.

Because of those two players, if the Titans do get in (and assuming Henry is healthy enough to play), they will also be one of the most dangerous.

                             

10. Happy holidays, chumps

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 25: A Philadelphia Eagles fan dressed as Santa holds a sign prior to the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lincoln Financial Field on December 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We here at 10-Point central want to wish all of you a happy holiday, except the losers and haters. You get coal.

We also wanted to leave you this story about the time Eagles fans booed Santa because apparently his red suit-wearing ass deserved it.

                      

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL. 

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