The Jaguars made a splash hire during the 2021 NFL offseason. After firing Doug Marrone following four years with the team, Jacksonville brought aboard Urban Meyer.
Meyer had never held an NFL job, but he was one of the most successful college football coaches of all time. He has posted a 186-32 record during his 17-year college coaching career. That .853 winning percentage is the seventh-highest in college football history.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan was excited about Meyer joining the Jaguars, as he communicated in a statement after he was hired.
”This is a great day for Jacksonville and Jaguars fans everywhere,” Khan said. ”Urban Meyer is who we want and need, a leader, winner and champion who demands excellence and produces results.
”While Urban already enjoys a legacy in the game of football that few will ever match, his passion for the opportunity in front of him here in Jacksonville is powerful and unmistakable. I’m proud to name Urban the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
He isn’t as proud now.
Meyer’s brief tenure in Jacksonville ended the morning of Dec. 16 after 13 games and a series of controversies and scandals. Khan fired Meyer hours after former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo accused Meyer of kicking him at a practice last August.
“After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban’s tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone,” Khan said in a statement.
The team’s performance wasn’t good; Jacksonville fell to 2-11 after a 20-0 Week 14 loss to the Titans. Jaguars players had had issues with Meyer at times throughout the season, as well.
Below is a recap of Meyer’s only season with the Jaguars and all of the juicy drama that came with it.
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Urban Meyer timeline with Jaguars
Jan. 14, 2021: The Jaguars hired Urban Meyer to replace Doug Marrone. This is Meyer’s first job at the NFL level and his coaching post since he left Ohio State in 2018.
Feb. 11, 2021: Meyer hires former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, who was placed on leave in 2020 after he directed racist language at his players. Meyer defended the team’s decision to hire Doyle.
“I vet everyone on our staff and, like I said, the relationship goes back close to 20 years and a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff,” Meyer said, per ESPN. “We did a very good job vetting that one.”
Feb. 12, 2021: The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a foundation that promotes diversity within the NFL, slams Meyer’s decision to hire Doyle.
“At a time when the NFL has failed to solve its problem with racial hiring practices, it is simply unacceptable to welcome Chris Doyle into the ranks of NFL coaches,” Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director Rod Graves wrote in the statement, per NFL.com. “Doyle’s departure from the University of Iowa reflected a tenure riddled with poor judgment and mistreatment of Black players. His conduct should be as disqualifying for the NFL as it was for University of Iowa. Urban Meyer’s statement, ‘I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years’, reflects the good ol’boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches.”
Feb. 12, 2021: Doyle resigns from the Jaguars, citing that he had become “a distraction” for the team. Meyer accepts his resignation in a statement.
Chris Doyle came to us this evening to submit his resignation and we have accepted. Chris did not want to be a distraction to what we are building in Jacksonville. We are responsible for all aspects of our program.
March 29, 2021: Meyer discusses the departure of Doyle win NBC’s Peter King and notes that he wants nothing to distract his team in 2021.
“I did our due diligence on that,” Meyer said. “But one thing that I made a self-promise — if it’s a distraction . . . it was the right thing for Chris to move on because it became a distraction to our team. Anything that’s a distraction to our team, I want to make sure we avoid.”
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April 29, 2021: The Jaguars agree to try out Tim Tebow nearly three months after his retirement from minor league baseball. Tebow was Meyer’s quarterback during their time together at Florida, but he is planning to play the tight end position for the first time at age 33.
Tim Tebow recently reached out to the Jaguars and requested a tryout at the tight end position, per sources, a move many believe would have extended his NFL career had he made the transition earlier. He recently worked out with the Jaguars’ TE coach. No decision has been made.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2021
May 10, 2021: Meyer and the Jaguars sign Tebow to a one-year deal to compete for a roster spot as a tight end.
May 21, 2021: Jaguars special teams coordinator Brian Schneider steps away from his post for personal reasons. He did the same thing in 2020 when he was with the Seahawks. The Jaguars later hire another Seahawks assistant, Nick Sorensen, to serve as the special teams coordinator.
July 1, 2021: The Jaguars are fined $200K and Meyer is personally fined $100K after the team violated the non-contact rule during OTAs in previous months.
Aug. 17, 2021: Tim Tebow is released by the Jaguars among their first five roster cuts of the 2021 NFL offseason. Meyer calls the decision “tough.”
“We knew that it was an uphill battle for Tim,” Meyer said. “Players loved him. Locker room loved him. But it was the right thing.”
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Aug. 26, 2021: Reports emerge that Jaguars players “aren’t thrilled” with Meyer’s coaching style out of the gate.
Aug. 31, 2021: Meyer says that vaccination status was “certainly in consideration” when the Jaguars were making their final roster cuts. This prompts an NFL investigation into the matter since the league doesn’t require players to be vaccinated.
Sept. 1, 2021: The Jaguars release a statement denying Meyer’s claim and explain that they have vaccinated and unvaccinated players on their roster.
Availability is one of the many factors taken into account when making roster decisions. We have vaccinated and unvaccinated players on our roster, and no player was released because of their vaccination status. Ultimately, decisions are based on a player’s ability to help the Jaguars win. We educate our players and respect personal decisions as it pertains to the vaccine. We want to keep our players, staff fand families safe as we comply with protocols related to both health and safety and competition on game days.
Sept. 12, 2021: Jason La Canfora reports that Urban Meyer’s “unhinged” coaching style is already causing issues within the Jaguars’ coaching staff and locker room.
“There is a disconnect at times between the members of the staff with extensive pro experience and those who lack it, and morale has suffered as the outbursts have continued,” La Canfora reports. “His fiery remarks to players and coaches after games have already struck many as bizarre.”
Sept. 20, 2021: The Jaguars drop to 0-2 after a 23-13 loss to the Broncos. That prompts a strange statement from Meyer, via the Jaguars’ official Twitter account.
Sept. 22, 2021: Broncos coach Vic Fangio reveals that Meyer said, “Every week it’s like playing Alabama in the NFL.” Meyer is shredded for these comments.
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Oct. 1, 2021: The Jaguars blow a 14-0 first-half lead against the Bengals and lose 24-21 on the road. Meyer doesn’t fly home with the team after the Thursday night game; he stays in Ohio and travels from Cincinnati to Columbus to visit his family during the mini-bye.
Oct. 2, 2021: A raunchy video of Urban Meyer dancing with a younger woman at an Ohio bar goes viral. Meyer has been married to his wife Shelley since 1986.
Oct. 4, 2021: Meyer apologizes to his team “for being a distraction.” He says his actions were “just stupid.”
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 4, 2021
Oct. 5, 2021: Reports leak that the Jaguars are having “closed door meetings” and discussions about Urban Meyer’s future ahead of their game against the Titans. The reports mention a potential morals clause in his contract while another says that Meyer has “zero credibility” with the Jaguars.
Oct. 5, 2021: Jacksonville owner Shad Khan releases a statement. He calls Meyer’s actions “inexcusable” and says that Meyer “must regain our trust and respect” moving forward.
I have addressed this matter with Urban. Specifics of our conversation will be held in confidence. What I will say is his conduct last weekend was inexcusable. I appreciate Urban’s remorse, which I believe is sincere. Now, he must regain our trust and respect. That will require a personal commitment from Urban to everyone who supports, represents or plays for our team. I am confident he will deliver.
Oct. 10, 2021: The Jaguars lose to the Titans 37-19 to drop to 0-5 on the season. Meyer is questioned about not having Trevor Lawrence try to sneak the ball in on fourth-and-inches in the fourth quarter of the game to cut the Titans’ then-31-19 lead to single digits.
“He’s not quite comfortable with that yet,” Meyer said. “I know that might sound silly, but if you’ve never done it, it’s something that we need to keep [working on] so that we can make that call in that situation.”
However, there was an apparent disconnect between him and Lawrence, who was more than OK with the idea of sneaking it up the middle.
“QB sneak is something we can always get to and I feel comfortable with,” Lawrence said.
Oct. 17, 2021: Meyer earns his first win as Jaguars head coach. Jacksonville beats Miami 23-20 in a London game that was marred with errors by both coaches.
“We’re going to get used to doing this a bunch,” Meyer said to his players after the victory, per the Orlando Sentinel.
Nov. 7, 2021: The Jaguars earn their second win of the season in one of the year’s biggest upsets. They beat the Bills 9-6 at home as Buffalo fails to post a touchdown in the game.
Dec. 1, 2021: After a relatively quiet November that ended with three consecutive losses, the Notre Dame coaching job opens up. Meyer, who had previously said that coaching the Fighting Irish is his “dream job,” steadfastly denied that he would be a candidate for the opening.
“I’m not a candidate,” Meyer told reporters. “Obviously, I spent six years of my life there, so great respect for Notre Dame, and as I do USC, UCLA, like we talked about. But I’m committed to the Jaguars and doing the best we can to turn this thing around.”
Meyer had similarly denied interest in the USC coaching vacancy earlier in the season.
Dec. 3, 2021: Notre Dame hires Marcus Freeman as its new head coach. There is no indication that Meyer was considered for the opening.
Dec. 5, 2021: The Jaguars drop their fourth straight game to the Rams, 37-7. They fall to 2-10 on the season.
“I wish I had all the answers, and I’d give them to you,” Meyer said after the defeat, per Jaguars.com. “I don’t know the answers other than I know this, that you’re going to keep swinging and keep working together.”
Dec. 6, 2021: Starting running back James Robinson admitted he was confused that the Jaguars’ coaching staff gave him three carries on the final drive of the game. He had been benched for a fumble earlier and was dealing with heel and ankle injuries.
“I’m not sure what the point of that was,” Robinson said of the Jaguars’ decision.
Meyer had been asked about the decision at his postgame news conference on Sunday. He deflected the blame to running backs coach Bernie Parmalee.
“That’s a good question,” Meyer said when asked about Robinson’s usage. “I know that there’s a running back rotation. We’re worried about his load and how many carries — and they track that. Obviously, at that point in the game, they must’ve wanted to get him a few more carries, Bernie did. I’m aware of it, I’m not in charge of it but I’ll watch it and say, ‘What are our thoughts here? What are our thoughts there?’ Obviously, I didn’t do it there, with James.”
Dec. 8, 2021: Trevor Lawrence speaks about the Jaguars’ usage of Robinson and reveals that he actually requested that Robinson be used more after missing large chunks of back-to-back games following fumbles.
“James is one of our best players and he’s got to be in the game,” Lawrence said. “I think we’re all on the same page, so there’s no confusion there.”
Dec. 11, 2021: NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero drops a bombshell report about Meyer’s Jaguars, and reports that tensions are “boiling over” in the locker room. Pelissero reveals that Meyer actually stopped Robinson from re-entering the game against the Rams after his fumble and only allowed him back in after Lawrence requested that he play.
However, the key takeaway is that Meyer held a staff meeting during which he insisted that he’s a “winner” and his assistants are “losers.”
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 resumes.
ESPN reports that owner Shad Khan “plans to stay the course” with Meyer despite the dysfunctional state of the team.
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Dec. 12, 2021: The Jaguars are shut out by the Titans 20-0 in Week 14 and fall to 2-11 on the season. After the game, Meyer gives Titans coach Mike Vrabel the cold shoulder at the postgame handshake. Vrabel coached under Meyer for two years at Ohio State.
Dec. 12, 2021: Meyer denies Pelissero’s report after the loss to the Titans. He also vows during his postgame news conference to immediately fire any Jaguars employee who leaks information.
“What’s the answer? Starting leaking some information or nonsense? That’s garbage,” Meyer said. “If there is a source, then that source is unemployed. I mean, within seconds.”
Dec. 15, 2021: Former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo tells the Tampa Bay Times that Meyer kicked him in the leg at practice last August before the team’s preseason finale against the Cowboys. Lambo says he immediately told Meyer to never to do that again, but Meyer instantly dismissed the request, supposedly saying, “I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f— I want.”
Lambo says he told his agent about the kick and that the agent told the Jaguars’ legal team. The team says it offered to set up meetings with Lambo to discuss the matter, but Lambo says he doesn’t recall being given the opportunity.
Meyer tells the Times that Lambo isn’t telling the truth.
“Josh’s characterization of me and this incident is completely inaccurate, and there are eyewitnesses to refute his account,” Meyer tells the Times.
Dec. 16, 2021: Meyer is fired as Jaguars coach 13 games into his tenure. Team owner Shad Khan announced the dismissal hours after the Lambo report was published.
“As I stated in October,” Khan said in his statement, referring to the dancing incident, “regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen.”