It was a myriad of emotions for Gus Bradley and the Jaguars after losing to the Patriots and looking at how it happened. Discouraged, disappointed and frustrated is what Bradley talked about in the 24 hours following the blowout.
“There’s some frustration, I would say.” Bradley noted on Monday. “I told the team that’s a good thing and shows that they’re invested. Attitude is great, but just wanted to get it right.”
After three years of building the roster and declaring it “built” going into 2015, everybody, inside the organization and out, thought the team would be competitive in any situation this year. Obviously that didn’t happen against New England as the Patriots scored on nine consecutive drives and did not punt once during the game.
“I think we have to get back to who we are, and I think that’s the biggest thing that we talked about. We tried to do too much. Guys were trying to make plays, trying to overanalyze things. I think when you start doing that, you try to make plays, you do things that are uncharacteristic that you don’t do normally, that’s when the score can get like it is.”
Maybe that’s a hallmark of a young team. Maybe the Patriots and Tom Brady are just that good. But whatever it is, the Jaguars have to figure out how to not let it happen again. Too often in the last three years the score was so lopsided it appeared the Jaguars were out of their league. With the draft picks selected, the experienced gained and the free agents acquired this off-season, that kind of rout shouldn’t happen. Bradley’s coaching style, allowing the players to be empowered, somehow hasn’t translated across the whole team in big game situations. Blake Bortles interception under two minutes before the half was a turning point in the game but it shouldn’t have lead to the runaway final score.
Bradley agrees. “I think what’s disappointing is that we didn’t go out there and play up to our capabilities and make plays when we had opportunities. Things were falling into place that kept us in the situation where we were in striking zone. Then, it fell apart at the end of the first half.”
Still, the Jaguars Head Coach is unwavering in his conviction. “Stay true to the principles. Stay true throughout and let’s see what takes place. Once we see that, now we can fix some things.”
In the comparison between Blake Bortles and Tom Brady, the 16 years of experience in the same offense for Brady was evident. Maybe to compare the two is unfair. Perhaps comparing any quarterback to Brady is unfair. He was precise, decisive and accurate against the Jaguars.
Bradley is confident in Bortles and likes everything about him: his toughness, his willingness to learn and his physical ability. But he also knows Bortles is a second year player.
“I think sometimes what we have to guard against is keep the simple things simple. I think that refers to him (Bortles) mostly when I’m talking about the offense. He needs not to make it as complicated as he wants to make it. I think some of the reads he’s just got to trust his progression, simple things like let’s get the tight end involved, let’s get Marcedes more involved; OK, he went away from his reads and really honed in on getting Marcedes the ball. Those lessons I think he’s learning right now is to say, ‘although we make an emphasis let’s try to get the tight ends involved and take pressure off the offense you’ve still got to follow through with the progression,’ and I think that’s what he learned with this game.”
And Bradley also knows his team is still searching for an identity. In his mind, he knows what he wants it to be.
“I think we want that personality an as offense, defense and special teams to be aggressive. Aggressive doesn’t mean on defense zero pressure or on offense ten shots in a row. It just means be aggressive, show faith in our players and stand behind them. It was similar last week and in this week.”