Urban Meyer has broken his silence.
In an interview with NFL.com, Urban Meyer spoke for the first time since the Jacksonville Jaguars parted ways with him following a tumultuous coaching career that lasted just 13 games.
“I just apologize to Jacksonville,” Meyer said, via NFL.com. “I love Jacksonville. It’s one of the reasons I took the job. I still think Shad’s a great owner. It’s heart-breaking. I just had a dream of it becoming a destination place with a new facility he agreed to build and some day to walk into that stadium where it’s standing room only. Because I know how bad the people of Jacksonville want it. So, I’m just heartbroken that we weren’t able to do that. I still believe it’s going to be done. It’s too good of a place.”
Meyer explained that the losing took its toll and he offered an explanation for the handling of RB James Robinson as well as the awkward handshake with Titans HC Mike Vrabel after the game.
“I tell people, losing eats away at your soul,” Meyer said. “Once you start losing, it’s hard on everybody. I thought at one point, when we won two out of three, there was some momentum, great energy, the defense was really playing well. We were running the ball and then when that dried up on us, then we started turning the ball over. We had that bye week and then James Robinson gets hurt.”
“Someone asked me about Vrabel’s [handshake], we’re really close. That had nothing to do with him. That’s probably one of my issues why I’ve thought some of the things I said: I can’t take losing. I try to accept it, it just eats away at my soul. And I believe our players deserve better.”
When it came to benching Robinson, Meyer pointed to the fumble issues.
“We discussed it as a staff,” Meyer said. ” ‘When you see someone lose the ball or even see them be loose with the ball, get them out of the game, get their mind right and then get them back in.’ When he fumbled, I said, ‘Take him out.’ We took him out and then we had lack of communication about when to put him back in.”
He also spoke on rookie QB Trevor Lawrence:
“He’s going to be great,” Meyer said. “He’s 22 years old, thrust into a place that lost 15 straight games. He had some devastating injuries to his offensive skill guys – (DJ) Chark went down and (Travis) Etienne, then (Jamal) Agnew and then our TE Dan Arnold. Those are our fast guys. And we had enough (talent), I’m not blaming that, but we had to be more creative. I just think we could’ve done better. But there is zero doubt Trevor is going to be a great NFL quarterback.”
When asked about the reports of him being touch on players and coaches, Meyer explained that his approach is to push people to be their best.
“You push people really hard to find their greatness, but you treat them like gold,” he said. “I thought that’s what we’re gonna do and we’re gonna win. It was really going good for a while.”
“I think college has changed quite a bit, too,” Meyer said. “Just society has changed. You think how hard you pushed. … I believe there is greatness in everybody and it’s the coach’s job to find that greatness however you do that. Positive encouragement. Pushing them to be greater, making them work harder, identifying flaws and trying to fix [them]. I think everything is so fragile right now. And that includes coaching staffs. When I got into coaching, coaches weren’t making this kind of money and they didn’t have agents. Everything is so fragile where it used to be team, team, team. I remember talking about it in a staff meeting three days ago. I got into this profession because I had the greatest high school coach and it was all about team. All about the huddle.
“And then I found I loved the players. I loved seeing players develop. Seeing Michael Thomas go from Michael Thomas to being the highest-paid WR in the NFL. And my gosh. Rudy Ford, who everyone told us he couldn’t play, he’s a great player. Dawuane Smoot, Cam Robinson. There was a narrative about those two players. [They are] as good [of] people and as good [of] players as I’ve ever coached. I always thought there is greatness in people, it’s our job to find it.”
Meyer likely ended his head coaching career in the NFL with a 2-11 record.