The Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Urban Meyer late Wednesday night amid a turbulent and tumultuous first season for Meyer in the NFL.
Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will be the interim head coach for the final four games of the regular season. Meyer, who was hired early this year to begin a new era in Duval, will finish 2-11 in his lone season at the helm.
“Darrell Bevell will serve as interim head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars for the balance of the 2021 season. Darrell succeeds Urban Meyer,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement. “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. I informed Urban of the change this evening. As I stated in October, regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen.
“Trent Baalke continues as our general manager and will work with Darrell to ensure that our team will be inspired and competitive while representing Jacksonville proudly over our final four games of the season. In the spirit of closure and recharging our players, staff and fan base, I will not comment further until some point following the conclusion of the NFL season.”
Though Meyer’s firing might have been shocking news just after midnight Eastern Time on Thursday, it was a move that could be seen coming throughout Wednesday and long before it.
The 57-year-old came to Duval with three National Championships on his resume (two at Florida and one at Ohio State) and in 13 games couldn’t get his NFL win total to match his number of NCAA titles. His brief but chaotic NFL run saw him go 2-11 with a rebuilding Jaguars franchise that was looking to build a future with a high-profile coach and instead took a giant step backward in a waste of a season colored more by controversy than progress.
It’s hardly a familiar storyline, but not without precedent as Bobby Petrino made the jump from the college ranks with Louisville to the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and went 3-10 before leaving to coach at Arkansas. Petrino was the last non-interim head coach to fail to complete his first NFL season before Meyer’s undoing.
Meyer’s time with Jacksonville was disordered from the start.
In February, Meyer hired Chris Doyle as director of sports performance even though he had been placed on administrative leave at Iowa in 2020 amid allegations of mistreating players based on race. Doyle resigned the following day amid controversy.
In the spring, Meyer brought former quarterback Tim Tebow in to try out as a tight end after Tebow hadn’t played an NFL down since 2012. The move was jeered as a publicity stunt, and Tebow would not make it to the 53-man roster cutdown day.
In July, the league fined Meyer and the Jaguars for violating rules related to organized team activities.
As the season began with No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence leading the way, the Jags stumbled out to an 0-5 start. The fourth loss of the season came in Cincinnati against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football and Meyer didn’t leave on the team plane as is customary for head coaches. Instead, he stayed back in Ohio and a video emerged of a woman who was not his wife dancing close to Meyer’s lap at a bar.
The incident prompted a public rebuke by Khan in which he stated that Meyer must “regain our trust and respect.”
But the losses mounted and in recent days the tumult grew and grew.
This past Saturday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero detailed a staff meeting in which Meyer “delivered a biting message that he’s a winner and his assistant coaches are losers.” The report also included disputes with wide receiver Marvin Jones and running back James Robinson, who by most accounts had been benched by Meyer, though the head coach said he was resting the second-year player due to injury.
Jones downplayed the situation with Meyer on a roller-coaster Wednesday stating the two had a dispute but “handled it like grown men.” More controversy, however, soon followed.
Hours later, former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo alleged that Meyer had kicked him during a preseason practice. Meyer denied the claim to the Tampa Bay Times.
Khan had said earlier in the week that he wouldn’t rush to a decision with Meyer, but after Wednesday piled more and more ugliness onto a season that’s seen so few positive returns, the Jaguars changed course.
The Jaguars can begin interviewing new head coaching candidates as soon as Dec. 28 via a resolution passed Wednesday at the Winter League Meeting.
Meyer was the fourth head coach for the franchise since 2012, following Mike Mularkey, Gus Bradley and Doug Marrone, though the much-ballyhooed Meyer had the shortest stint.
Before it all began, the NFL never seemed to be the fit for Meyer that Khan wanted it to be.
An unlucky 13 games into an unremarkable 2021 campaign, the Urban Meyer experiment has ended in Duval.
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