Urban Meyer Fired as Jaguars Head Coach amid Kicking Josh Lambo Allegation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2021

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at TIAA Bank Field on September 26, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired head coach Urban Meyer.

"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," Jaguars owner Shad Khan said early Thursday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

"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," Khan stated.

He continued: "In the spirit of closure and recharging our players, staff and fanbase, I will not comment further until some point following the conclusion of the NFL season."

He also said: "Trent Baalke continues as our general manager and will work with [interim head coach and ex-offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell] to ensure that our team will be inspired and competitive while representing Jacksonville proudly over our final four games of the season."

The 51-year-old Bevell, who has worked as an offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, will take the Jags over for the remainder of 2021.

He was also the Lions' interim head coach to end 2020 after former head coach Matt Patricia was fired. Bevell went 1-4 over the last five games.

The team posted a 2-11 record during Meyer's brief time on the sideline, and his departure comes soon after former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that Meyer kicked him and cursed at him during warm-ups for a practice in the preseason this year.

Jonathan Jones @jjones9

Former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo tells <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLSTROUD?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLSTROUD</a> that Urban Meyer kicked him during an August warmup this preseason <a href="https://t.co/JoN0UDdVz1">https://t.co/JoN0UDdVz1</a> <a href="https://t.co/aqFS4HScCL">pic.twitter.com/aqFS4HScCL</a>

That came after a series of missteps following his hiring in January.

Recently, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero painted an unflattering portrait of Meyer's tenure:

"But sources say Meyer's repeated public comments shifting blame to players and coaches amid the team's 2-10 season have exacerbated frustration in the building with his hard-charging and sometimes condescending approach -- a style that many observers believed wouldn't work in the NFL even before the Jaguars hired him."

Meyer also reportedly said during a staff meeting that "he's a winner and his assistant coaches are losers." He disputed that rumor following Jacksonville's 20-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

"Calling someone a loser, that's inaccurate. I have high expectations for our coaches - I'm very demanding of our coaches." <br><br>Jaguars HC Urban Meyer on the dysfunction around the team <a href="https://t.co/ndmnkznVXZ">pic.twitter.com/ndmnkznVXZ</a>

In general, this move has been a long time coming.

video showing a woman dancing close to Meyer's lap went viral on social media in October. He apologized days later, saying he had stayed behind after his team's road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and gone out to dinner with his family before the scenes depicted in the video occurred.

Sports Illustrated @SInow

Urban Meyer apologizes for "being a distraction" to the Jaguars following a viral video of him at a bar that circulated over the weekend <a href="https://t.co/13ZrcsbQ2R">pic.twitter.com/13ZrcsbQ2R</a>

Khan issued a statement saying Meyer's behavior was "inexcusable" and that he "must regain our trust and respect."

Jacksonville Jaguars @Jaguars

<a href="https://t.co/5xDtupdi7B">pic.twitter.com/5xDtupdi7B</a>

In a vacuum, that story arguably wasn't grounds for dismissal, and it likely would have blown over eventually. But NFL Network's Michael Silver reported the situation exacerbated internal discord in Jacksonville:

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

2) Players were particularly put off by the fact that Meyer canceled Monday's team meeting, as he dealt with the uproar over the videos of him and a young woman getting cozy in that Ohio bar. 'He even canceled the team meeting. He was too scared,' a player said.

Michael Silver @MikeSilver

5 Bottom line, said the player: 'It's bad. I don't know how he's gonna function.'

From the moment Jacksonville was linked to Meyer in the offseason, many were skeptical the partnership would work even though pairing an adept offensive mind with a young quarterback (Trevor Lawrence) made sense in theory.

The 57-year-old resigned from Florida in late 2009 for health reasons—returning to the school for one more season. He also cited his health as one of the factors leading him to walk away from Ohio State in 2018.

The Athletic's Stewart Mandel recounted his past interactions with Meyer and described him as "a man who takes losses harder than any coach I've ever encountered."

Now, the legendary coach was taking a job where a team can lose six or seven games and still make the playoffs. It only took two defeats before he made a public pledge to turn things around:

Jacksonville Jaguars @Jaguars

A message for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DUUUVAL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DUUUVAL</a> <a href="https://t.co/fmB3RGRexX">pic.twitter.com/fmB3RGRexX</a>

Meyer also struggled with the culture shift from college to the NFL.

Jacksonville badly misread the room when it announced the impending hire of Chris Doyle as the director of sports performance. Beyond his lack of experience at the pro level, he left Iowa amid allegations he made racist comments and showed racial bias against Black Hawkeyes players.

Doyle quickly resigned, and Meyer acknowledged he "saw the impact of the decision and the distraction it caused."

And the Jaguars hadn't even kicked off the regular season before CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported in September that "Meyer's ability to adapt to the NFL game and make a smooth transition from college is a topic of considerable debate in league circles":

"There have been repeated issues with other coaches on staff, with Meyer's temper and lack of familiarity with the ebbs and flows of the NFL calendar rubbing the Jacksonville Jaguars staff and players the wrong way, the sources said. 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. His fiery remarks to players and coaches after games have already struck many as bizarre."

Some coaches have found success in the NFL after thriving at the college level. It quickly became apparent that Meyer wouldn't be joining that group.

For the Jaguars, his hiring was a clear mistake, and admitting that error now is at least better than keeping him on the sideline and waiting for things to change.

It's probably too late for another coach to reverse Jacksonville's fortunes this year, but the organization now has the opportunity to reset its future while still building around Lawrence.