On Friday afternoon, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley gave a straightforward “no” to the question of changing his staff in the near future.
On Saturday he fired Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.
There seemed to be a disconnect there, and understanding what has to be kept behind closed doors, Bradley revealed today that he was thinking about a change, even last Friday. And after “evaluating” it, as Bradley says, he decided to make a change, a move both General Manager Dave Caldwell and Owner Shad Khan approved of. Bradley was quick to point out it was his decision, alone.
“We started looking at things and gathering information and putting things together and it went into more of that direction,” Bradley said on Monday. “I didn’t know where the direction would take me. I didn’t know what would take place. I didn’t want it to lead to speculation nor did I think, at that time, there would be a coaching change. I try to share things with Shad and Dave and keep them up to date. It’s still my decision. It wasn’t Shad’s decision or wasn’t Dave’s decision. It was one that I had to feel comfortable with.”
So Bradley brought Olson in on Saturday morning and told him they were going to make a change. Olson calmly left the building before the whole Florida/Georgia festivities got into full swing. Bradley told the staff and the players, who he described as “shocked.”
“Oly had great impact on everybody in that room,” he explained about Olson and the offense. “I think there’s a part of them, it’s sad. It’s tough. No different than when you cut a player that’s close to the team and then he leaves. Players experience it. Coaches experience it. I think it’s the world we live in.”
Promoting quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett to offensive coordinator keeps the relationship with Blake Bortles in tact and gives the team a “different vision” according to Bradley.
“I just called him up and talked to him about, hey, what direction would you go? How would you go about it? It was very good. I thought it was very clear which direction and I thought it really meshed with what we needed at this point.”
A change in coordinators isn’t extraordinary during the season in the NFL, but its not the end all, cure all for the Jaguars.
“I told the offense, I said, we made a change, okay, now we’re good,” Bradley said of his meeting. “No. It’s not like that. Players have to make plays. We all have to take responsibility. This was not solely Greg Olson.”
Now it’s Hackett’s job to try and get the offense untracked, starting with the quarterback. Although he doesn’t think the problem rests squarely on Bortles’ shoulders.
“I think that sometimes people try to focus on all the negative things with Blake,” he said today at his first meeting with the media. “I don’t really do that. I try to look at more of the positive things and see how we can do those more to get him into a more comfort level.”
Getting the running game going would be anybody’s priority when trying to fix the Jaguars. Hackett is no exception, adding that getting any kind of meaningful running game would take pressure off Bortles and the Jaguars receivers.
“I have always felt, like I said, the best thing in the world for a quarterback is the run game. I have always absolutely loved running the ball. Get it to Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon they’re going to run right down the field and get a couple yards. I think that even if it doesn’t work, they still have to defend it.”
On Saturday Bradley called Bortles to let him know about the changes. In turn, Bortles talked with Olson and Hackett to discuss the new “vision” for what they’re going to try and do on offense. Even Bortles admits it’s still about the players making plays.
“Things change and just because there has been a move made or a switch has happened it doesn’t mean we are all of sudden going to start putting up numbers offensively and winning games,” he said on Monday. “We still have to go out and find a way to execute and eliminate the stuff that has been happening the previous seven weeks.”
It’s a production-based business and because Bortles hasn’t been producing, Olson is out as the coordinator. That’s not lost on the Jaguars third-year quarterback.
“If I would have played well, better, the way I should, whatever you want to say, there would never be a coordinator switch. We would still be here with Jedd Fisch I guess. It’s always on the quarterback. Nowhere near was it all Greg Olson’s fault.”
A lack of “efficiency” is how Bortles termed his throwing motion this year so he had his personal QB coach Adam Dedaux come to Jacksonville on Monday to look him over and “tighten some things up.” Hackett said he was fine with Bortles seeking outside help since it “makes him comfortable.”
Something needed to change with the Jaguars after a 2-5 start. You can chalk up their losses to Green Bay and Baltimore to just not knowing how to win. The blowouts to San Diego, Oakland and Tennessee were inexcusable. So a new voice, a new approach was needed. Since Shad Khan said Gus Bradley was remaining as the head coach, the next in line to get the scrutiny and eventually the ax was offensive coordinator.
“I think you have to be realistic with it and understand what we’re doing isn’t working and hasn’t worked,” Bortles said. “You have to do something different and we’re figuring that out and we’re going to try to find something different this week.”
While Olson was laid-back and direct with the players, Hackett is a “mini Gus,” according to Marcedes Lewis. Bortles says no question he’ll bring a different energy to the practices and games.
“Nathaniel coming in was kind of the spark plug for the offense. That’s kind of his personality, that’s what he is. He is a little ball of energy. I think it’ll be good. I think it’ll be good to have that. We’ll find out. We have nine games left, a lot of football to go. We’re 1-1 in our division and I’m looking forward to the rest of it.”