In the early hours of Thursday morning, the Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Urban Meyer, with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell serving as interim HC. After the stories that have emerged from Jacksonville in the past few weeks, this move comes with little surprise. Let’s take a look at the timeline that led to Meyer’s firing within his first season as an NFL head coach.
Urban Meyer Fired: Timeline of events
Seemingly since Day 1, Meyer has either courted or at least managed to find controversy of some sort. Here are some of the events highlighting his short tenure in Jacksonville.
It was an eventful first offseason for Meyer and the Jaguars
After Meyer was hired, he brought in Chris Doyle as his Director of Sports Performance. However, his appointment was met with immediate criticism. This was due to previous accusations of racism and bullying made against Doyle when he was the Iowa Hawkeyes strength and conditioning coach. Doyle left the role with the Jaguars shortly after.
Things went a bit smoother for a few months. Still, there was criticism over Jacksonville’s decision to select Travis Etienne in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Meyer was then publicly quoted by ESPN saying that the team had actually been targeting former Florida receiver Kadarius Toney.
Leading up to the season, two moments really raised eyebrows. The first was the addition of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who the Jags tried to convert to tight end. Meyer coached Tebow during his time at Florida, and the move was widely criticized as Meyer just giving a former player and good friend an opportunity that other coaches would not have.
Meyer then drew further criticism for his decision to have an open competition between QBs Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew. Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, was widely regarded as a generational talent. Meanwhile, Minshew was a sixth-round selection in 2019. As expected, the Jaguars would ultimately go with Lawrence as the starter, but Meyer received heat for splitting first-team reps.
Things only got rockier in Jacksonville once the season began
Things didn’t start great, with the Jaguars coming out of the gates 0-4. After a Week 4 Thursday Night Football loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, videos and photos were published of Meyer and a woman other than his wife at a bar. The biggest problem analysts had with the situation was Meyer not flying home with the team. Meyer explained the reasoning for the decision, but it did little to sway public perception.
The Jaguars appeared to right the ship a little. In Week 6, Meyer and his team got their first win with a 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins in London. The Jaguars would then beat the Bills two games later to improve to 2-6 on the season. However, they would then lose their next five straight to slip to 2-11.
The first signs that something was really not right came at the end of November. Sources told Pro Football Network’s NFL Insider Adam Beasley that the staff was “coaching scared” and the “players think they’re listening to a coaching seminar.” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero furthered this report on December 11.
Pelissero reported further details, including WR Marvin Jones walking out of the facility and having to be convinced to come back. Meyer also reportedly told his assistant coaches that he was a winner and they were losers. Additionally, Meyer ordered the benching of James Robinson following a fumble and then stopped him from returning to the game in favor of former Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde.
The writing was on the wall
After the report from Pelissero, the Tennessee Titans shut out Jacksonville in Week 14. During the game, Meyer appeared disinterested and “checked out.” Then after the contest, he delivered a very pointed message to the “sources” within the organization.
“What’s the answer? Start leaking some information or some nonsense? No. No, that’s nonsense. That’s garbage. I’ve been very blessed. I’ve not really dealt with that … not dealt with, ‘Well did you hear what he said?’ What? No. Let’s improve on offense and get our quarterback in a position to be successful. That’s our focus. What someone’s brother said or someone said, someone said, that will occupy very little of my time. And if there is a source, that source is unemployed, I mean within seconds.”
On the Sunday of Week 14, PFN’s Chief Draft Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline reported that Meyer had lost the building in Jacksonville, including the use of the words “hate” and “hypocrisy.” One source told Pauline that the team did not trust Meyer, and another said that Meyer could be gone if the Jaguars lost in Week 15 against the Texans.
He would ultimately never make it to Week 15. On Wednesday, December 15, a story emerged that Meyer had kicked former kicker Josh Lambo during warmups. Meyer refuted the allegation but was ultimately fired just hours later.