For most new NFL coaches, it’s not easy to get fired before you even finish your first year on the job, but that’s exactly what happened to Urban Meyer in 2021. The former Jaguars coach was canned in December after compiling just a 2-11 record in his first season.
Based on the information that has come out over the past few months, it’s pretty clear that Meyer’s stint in Jacksonville was basically a disaster from start to finish. As it turns out, his time with the Jaguars might have actually been worse than anyone originally thought.
A story published by The Athletic on Monday painted an ugly picture of Meyer’s 11 months in north Florida and a lot of that picture was painted by former Jaguars receiver D.J. Chark, who decided to go on the record while talking about his former coach.
“The way he was running the ship, it was impossible to succeed,” Chark told The Athletic.
So what exactly did Meyer do wrong? Well, grab a chair and get comfortable, because you could be here for awhile.
For one, Meyer had no idea how to make his players better by putting them in a position to succeed.
“He told us from day one that he was going to maximize our value,” Chark said. “And I truly can’t tell you one player that maximized their value on the Jags this year.”
Chark can personally attest to that. The receiver broke his finger in training camp after Meyer forced him to do extra reps during a round of live contact drills. The ensuing surgery caused Chark to miss the entire preseason.
With Meyer unable to get the most out of his players, the one person who seemed to be hurt the most by this was Trevor Lawrence. The top overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft had an ugly rookie year, and according to Chark, that was mostly Meyer’s fault.
“Trevor is a great quarterback,” Chark said. “He was not put in good positions.”
Meyer ran an operation based on fear, which might have worked for him in college, but the strategy was an utter disaster in the NFL.
“He feels like threats are what motivates,” Chark said. “I know he would come up to us and tell us if the receivers weren’t doing good, he wasn’t going to fire us, he was going to fire our coach. He would usually say that when the coach was around.”
According to the Athletic, Meyer once threatened to cut a guy for making a mistake in a preseason game.
Although Meyer wasn’t very good at coaching at the NFL level, one thing he did excel at was placing the blame on others.
“I feel like he put us in very bad positions and, when the questions came, he deferred the responsibility, which made it look like we were just out there being the worst team in the league,” Chark said. “But we weren’t put in position (to succeed).”
One notable example of this came in December when Meyer through running backs coach Bernie Parmalee for a debacle involving James Robinson. After a fumble in the opening quarter of a 37-7 loss to the Rams in Week 13, Meyer called for Robinson to be benched. However, the coach then forced Robinson to go back in the game in the fourth quarter with the Jags TRAILING by 30. Benching a player is one thing, but forcing him to go back in for the final few plays of a blowout is misguided at best and callous at worst.
Meyer took zero responsibility for the incident. Lawrence put Meyer on blast after the game and said that Robinson is a player who needs to be playing.
The incident with Robinson came just a few weeks after Meyer made headlines when he skipped a plane ride home from a game in Cincinnati so that he could go hang out with his family in Columbus, Ohio. Although Meyer likely did spend time with his family, he was also caught on camera in a compromising position with someone who wasn’t his wife. The former Jags coach was forced to apologize to his team just days after the incident.
Meyer also routinely belittled and made fun of his players in practice. After John Brown dropped a pass in practice one time, Meyer decided to make fun of him.
“Hey, Trevor, you’ve got to slow it down for him,” Meyer allegedly said, according to The Athletic. “These boys from the South, their transcripts ain’t right.”
At one point during his tenure, Meyer apparently belittled a player to the point that the player cried.
The story from the Athletic also alleges that Meyer was “unfamiliar with star players around the league, including 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, Seahawks safety Jamal Adams and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Things got so bad in Jacksonville that one staffer called it, “The most toxic environment I’ve ever been a part of,” according to the Athletic. And that’s likely going to be Meyer’s legacy in the NFL.
For a full timeline on Meyer’s disastrous time with the Jaguars, be sure to click here.