Urban Meyer’s disastrous tenure in Jacksonville can be defined by misstep after misstep, and according to a new report, one of those gaffes apparently included a lack of intel on some of the NFL’s biggest playmakers.
Meyer is said to have been “unfamiliar with star players around the league,” as multiple sources told The Athletic – including future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Aaron Donald. In fact, Meyer is said to have asked a staffer, “Who’s this 99 guy on the Rams?” and “I think he might be a problem for us.”
Beyond Donald, who just won his first Super Bowl in February, Meyer was also reportedly unaware of Deebo Samuel of the 49ers and the Seahawks’ Jamal Adams. When it came to his own players and staffers, however, Meyer didn’t exactly instill confidence about their futures.
“He feels like threats are what motivates us,” said receiver DJ Chark, who recently signed with the Lions.
“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.”
As one veteran staffer put it, Meyer’s reign was “the most toxic environment I’ve ever been a part of.”
The report also said Meyer made an insensitive comment to wide receiver and Florida native John Brown, who after running the wrong route in practice worked with Trevor Lawrence on it after practice.
“Hey, Trevor, you’ve got to slow it down for him,” Meyer reportedly said to the two players. “These boys from the South, their transcripts ain’t right.”
Meyer’s alleged behavior had come under fire long before his December ouster. Following a loss to the Bengals in September, he opted to stay behind in Ohio and was later filmed dancing at a bar with a young woman.
Later in season, Meyer raised eyebrows once again over the benching of star running back James Robinson in what would be a blowout loss to the Rams. During the game, Robinson fumbled the ball and sat out several snaps, with Carlos Hyde taking his place. Robinson, who had been dealing with an injury, later returned to the game and publicly questioned his coach’s decision.
In the days leading up to his firing, NFL.com published a scathing report about Meyer, accusing the coach of calling himself a winner during a staff meeting while likening his assistants to losers and challenging them “to defend their resumes.”
The final straw appeared to come with the release of a Tampa Bay Times piece, in which former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo claimed Meyer had kicked him during an August practice. Meyer was fired in mid-December, 13 games into the season.
The Jaguars have since hired former Eagles coach Doug Pederson as Meyer’s replacement. Pederson has already received the stamp of approval from Lawrence, whom the Jaguars selected with the top pick in last year’s NFL Draft.