While most fans and analysts don't read a lot into preseason games, former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer reportedly had a hard time losing those exhibition contests.
According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, the "first big sign of trouble internally" with the Jaguars during Meyer's tenure came after their preseason loss to the Cleveland Browns.
One team staffer told Breer that Meyer's reaction to that game was "really over the top, and you could tell all this was new to him."
This isn't the first story about how irrationally angry Meyer got about Jacksonville's preseason results.
Prior to the Jaguars' Week 1 game against the Houston Texans, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported morale within the locker room "has suffered" because of Meyer's outbursts directed at players and coaches.
"He has everyone looking over their shoulders already," one source with direct knowledge of the daily operations in Jacksonville told La Canfora. "He becomes unhinged way too easily, and he doesn't know how to handle losing, even in the preseason. He loses it and wants to take over the drills himself. It's not good."
Things continued to spiral for Meyer over the next three months.
Some of the notable events included not flying home with the team after a Week 4 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, being filmed at a bar in Ohio with a woman who wasn't his wife dancing on him, blaming assistants for James Robinson's lack of touches in games and not being aware of the snap count for defensive back Andre Cisco.
On Dec. 11, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Meyer called his assistant coaches losers during a staff meeting and challenged them to defend their resumes.
The Jaguars fired Meyer on Thursday amid a 2-11 start to the season. ESPN's Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter reported the team dismissed Meyer for cause and doesn't intend to pay the remainder of Meyer's contract that ran through the 2025 season.
Speaking to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport after his firing, Meyer apologized to Jacksonville and said "losing eats away at your soul."
One coach with extensive experience in the NFL told The Athletic's Mike Sando that comment by Meyer was emblematic of why he didn't succeed in this league:
"Professional coaches and professional athletes, they do not have that type of response. The 2020 Buccaneers were 7-5, finished second in their division and got beat by the division winner by 35. The 2010 Giants were 9-5 and must-win in the final week to squeak in as a wild card and then win four in a row. That is professional football."
Another NFL coach who previously worked with Meyer in college called him "maniacal" in his approach.
“It is like coaching in dog years,” the coach told Sando. "Other guys on staff would say, 'Not every place is like this. Don’t give up on the profession. Stick around.'"
Jacksonville was Meyer's first stint as a coach in the NFL. The 57-year-old is one of the most successful college coaches in history. He won three national titles—two with Florida, one with Ohio State—and had a 187-32 overall record in 17 seasons with four programs.