Urban Meyer was fired by the Jaguars early Thursday morning. He signed a five-year contract with them last January, but his tumultuous tenure lasted only 13 games. It was marred by multiple scandals and a 2-11 record.
The final scandal was former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo, who alleged that Meyer kicked him during preseason practice.
Meyer on Friday denied the accusations of Lambo, which were published Wednesday by the Tampa Bay Times, as well as a report from last week from NFL Media Meyer and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. shouted at each other and Jones left the team facility.
“It was like, ‘Wait a minute, where is this coming from?'” Meyer told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport in an interview. “I’ve certainly made some mistakes, but they weren’t right.”
Even if those stories weren’t accurate, Meyer was already skating on thin ice. In October, a video of him dancing in a bar / restaurant with a woman who is not his wife went viral. Hours after Lambo told his story, Jaguars owner Shad Khan announced that he had moved out of Meyer, although the team told The Associated Press on Friday that Khan had made his decision after Sunday’s shutout loss to the Titans.
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Meyer isn’t happy with the way his brief time in Jacksonville turned out. How did it all go wrong? As Meyer said, losing was one of the biggest factors.
“I tell people, losing gnaws at your soul,” Meyer said. “Once you start losing, it’s hard for everyone.”
Losing was especially difficult for Meyer. He had 11 losses at Jacksonville after losing just nine total games in seven years at Ohio State. He didn’t take it well, and that seemed to damage his relationship with his players, which was reportedly worn out from the start.
But Meyer still believed the team would turn things around.
“I thought at one point, when we won two out of three, there was some momentum, great energy, the defense was really playing well,” Meyer said, referring to the wins over the Dolphins and Bills in weeks 6 and 9. “We were playing well. ” running the ball and then when that was over we started spinning the ball. We had that week off and then James Robinson got hurt. “
Robinson’s use was one of the biggest stories in the week leading up to Meyer’s firing. The running back said he was confused by Meyer’s decision to put him in the game in the Jaguars final series against the Rams in Week 13 when Jacksonville was 30 points down. Robinson had been recovering from an injury and was benched earlier in the game for a fumble.
“I’m not sure what the point was,” Robinson said after the game.
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Meyer benched Robinson again in Week 14 after a fumble. Robinson did not return to the game until quarterback Trevor Lawrence pressed for him to return.
Meyer defended his decision against Rapoport, but also acknowledged that keeping Robinson out as long as he did may have been a mistake.
“We discussed it as a staff,” Meyer said. “When you see someone lose the ball or even see them loose with the ball, take them out of the game, get their mind right and then get them back in. When they lost the ball, I said, ‘Get it out.’ then we had a miscommunication on when to put it back. “
Bench Robinson wasn’t the only move Meyer was scrutinized for after Week 14. Meyer seemed less than enthusiastic during his handshake with Titans coach Mike Vrabel after the game. That led many people to question his relationship with his former Ohio state aide after Meyer was reported to have called his Jaguars aides “losers” during a staff meeting (Meyer denied that report in his interview with Rapoport) .
Meyer denied there was any tension between him and Vrabel, saying they were “really close” thanks to their time together at Ohio State.
“That had nothing to do with him,” Meyer said of the handshake. “That’s probably one of my problems that I’ve thought about some of the things I said: I can’t bear to lose. I try to accept it, it just eats away at my soul. And I think our players deserve better.”
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Meyer also believed that the city of Jacksonville, and the Jaguars fans, deserved better. He apologized in his interview with Rapoport and said he was “heartbroken” that he couldn’t achieve his goals.
“I only apologize to Jacksonville,” Meyer said. “I love Jacksonville. It’s one of the reasons I took the job. I still think Shad is a great owner. It’s heartbreaking. I just had a dream of him becoming a duty station with a new facility that he agreed to build. And someday walk in that stadium where there’s only room to stand. Because I know how much the people of Jacksonville love it. So I’m heartbroken that we couldn’t do that. “
Meyer said he remains optimistic about the future of the Jaguars even though he is no longer a part of it.
“I still believe that it will be done,” he said. “It’s too good a place.”
As for his future, Meyer is still deciding what he wants to do next.
“To be determined,” he said.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.