Urban Meyer needs to adapt to the NFL quickly, plus the latest Cristiano Ronaldo rumors

Written by on August 27, 2021

Happy Friday sports fanatics. It’s Shanna McCarriston taking over the newsletter once more to end the week. You made it to the weekend and, lucky us, we get tons of football over the next few days, starting with some games tonight. I think I say this every season, but I’m so excited for the many, many storylines that are expected to come out of the NFL this year.

Urban Meyer is in his first year in the NFL following a long and successful college stint, but some of his players think he’s still stuck in his college coaching ways. We’ll start today’s newsletter by discussing what’s going on with the Jags and why some players are annoyed.

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We’ll also discuss the UEFA Champions League draw results and much more. But first, let’s get to some breaking news to start the Friday: Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has formally asked Juventus for an exit, according to CBS Sports soccer insider Fabrizio Romano. Manchester City are preparing to make an official bid in the near future in hopes of the two sides coming to terms on an agreement. Manchester United are also interested in Ronaldo, according to Romano.

OK, let’s get to the rest of the news.

? What you need to know

1. Why some Jaguars players aren’t thrilled with Urban Meyer ?

Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer went from college to the NFL and apparently he’s taking his college ways into the Jaguars locker room. And according to some Jags players, he may have brought a little too much of his college ways with him.

CBS Sports NFL writer Pete Prisco gave us the inside scoop on how things are going in training camp:

  • Prisco: “He’s got to change a few things. He brought a bunch of college-like things to the program which I don’t necessarily agree with. I’ve heard some of the players aren’t thrilled with them either.”

Meyer is someone who is not used to losing. He won over 85% of his games in his 17 years as a college head coach and now he is with a team that went 1-15 last season. Right now, the team’s biggest issue is their stagnant offense that has scored just over 30 points in two games.

  • Prisco: “It’s clear that that offense is a disaster right now. They have no idea what they’re doing. They don’t have speed outside. … They’re not a fast team and that’s something that he preached all offseason. They have problems, but they have a week to fix them and a couple of weeks before the start of the regular season. But right now they do not look very good.” 

Prisco noted that Meyer very much doesn’t like losing, and that the Jags’ most recent preseason loss impacted his week. That’s not something you can let happen in the NFL, though. It will be very interesting to see how this group handles adversity in the regular season.

2. Analyzing UEFA Champions League draw results ⚽

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We’ve been talking about football lately, so let’s talk some fútbol now. The draw for the UEFA Champions League group stages is now complete and as always, we have fantastic matchups in our horizon — all of which will be aired on Paramount+.

First, let’s go over the results of the draw:

  • Group A: Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain, RB Leipzig, Club Brugge
  • Group B: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Porto, AC Milan
  • Group C: Sporting, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Besiktas
  • Group D: Inter MIlan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sheriff
  • Group E: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv
  • Group F: Villarreal, Manchester United, Atalanta, Young Boys
  • Group G: Lille, Sevilla, Red Bull Salzburg, Wolfsburg
  • Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Malmo

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will face off in Group A, which may mean a matchup between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. With those latest developments regarding Ronaldo we touched on at the top of this newsletter, it seems like the chances of that actually happening are growing stronger. It just depends on which Manchester club lands Ronaldo.

You can stay updated on that Ronaldo situation by checking out our live blog throughout the weekend. Going back to UCL, you can get the full schedule and more on the winners and losers of the group stage draws by clicking here.

3. Why players are so upset that MLB pushed back the mound in the Atlantic League ⚾

CBS Sports

On August 3, Major League Baseball ordered the mound of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, the country’s most prominent independent baseball league, be moved back. It was moved back an additional foot from the typical 60 feet, 6 inches.

This didn’t do any good for what is already a complicated relationship between players and leadership.

A pitcher spoke to CBS Sports’ baseball scribe R.J. Anderson regarding the change and how it has affected the league. The player claims that league leadership said at first that players wouldn’t have to make any adjustments.

  • The pitcher: “He said, ‘Oh, you know, when the mounds go back, you pitchers, you’re not going to really have to make any adjustments.’ And then, the next words out of his mouth were, I swear to God, ‘well, you might have to adjust where you release the ball.’”

MLB and ALPB reached a three-year agreement in 2019 and the relationship has seen ALPB used as a test for changes to the game. Some other changes they’ve tested out in the ALPB include an automated ball-strike system (a.k.a robot umpires) and a three-batter minimum.

But there’s something bigger at play here, according to Anderson. The mound change isn’t the first situation the players haven’t been thrilled about, as the tension and distrust has been growing. To players in the Atlantic League, changes like the pushed-back mound undermines their aspirations of going pro.

There are concerns in the league over increased chances of injury, declining quality of competition and other labor-related issues that players say pushed the league to be close to a work stoppage — and this was before the mound distance change.

To get the full scope of what is happening in the Atlantic League, read Anderson’s great piece in its entirety here.

4. BMW Championship leaderboard heading into the weekend ⛳

The first 18 holes of the the 2021 BMW Championship — which is the second FedEx Cup playoffs event — got off to a solid start at Caves Valley yesterday.  

Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Sam Burns all shot 8-under 64 in Round 1. The three stars have each won one tournament so far this season. Let’s take a look at where things stand on the leaderboard right now:

  • T1: Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns (-8)
  • 4: Sergio Garcia (-7)
  • T5: Abraham Ancer, Patrick Cantlay (-6)
  • T7: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Hideki Matsuyama, Dustin Johnson and seven others (-5)

Burns could be playing for a spot on the Ryder Cup team this weekend and is currently 12th in FedEx Cup standings. A win would likely put him in the No. 10-12 range. Rahm is in a different situation, as his average performance lately is high above the competition. He is expected to win one of the three playoff events.

McIlroy on the other hand, has admitted that he is spent, both physically and mentally, but the standings don’t reflect that. He had the shot of the day on Thursday, going from 287 yards out to 11 feet out.

For more on each of the top players, click here.

? Odds & Ends

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? What to watch this weekend


Colts vs. Lions, 7 p.m. | DET +2 

Vikings vs. Chiefs, 8 p.m. | KC -4 | TV: NFLN


Packers vs. Bills, 1 p.m. | BUF -9.5 | TV: NFLN


Patriots vs. Giants, 6 p.m. | NYG +3 | TV: NFLN

Browns vs. Falcons, 8 p.m. | ATL +5.5 | TV: NBC

Best thing I saw on the internet ?

In 2004, Justin Rayner, just 13 at the time, broke his neck playing hockey. After the injury, he took 16 years off from the ice, but last winter he decided to make his grand return. This week, he posted a video of being on the ice for the first time in over a decade, calling it “an emotional and healing day.” He wore the same skates that he wore in the injury in his return to the ice.

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