I’ve never seen Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley this fired up.
After the 38-31 loss to the Bucs in Tampa, it was an inordinate amount of time before Bradley made his way to his post-game press conference. When he did, his entrance was swift and he started in right away. He didn’t mince words.
“OK, this one is painful,” he started. “We scored more points than we have in the past but there are still errors. A turnover that lead to a touchdown. Defensively, 183 yards on 40 carries, whatever it is, 4.6 (yards per carry,)” he continued. I couldn’t quite tell if Bradley was so red faced because he was flushed with anger or from standing in the 85 degree sun all afternoon.
He continued with the litany of problems the Jaguars had on Sunday afternoon. “Special teams, 28 yards per return. Just unacceptable.”
And then he started into a “big picture” look at the Jaguars situation. “We’re after victory. We’re after being our best. Well, that wasn’t our best, And it’s not acceptable. And that is the challenge. We have to dig deep and find out what these issues are and clean them up as soon as possible, because the expectation that we had in that locker room, this opportunity, was not met.”
I didn’t like the first question asked of Bradley, “Is this the bottom?” but it did provide a spectacular answer.
“No, this does not feel like the bottom but it feels like something is wrong in how we played. Maybe there is a difference between being ready and prepared. And we weren’t prepared as well as we needed to be and everybody can take responsibility for that.” I thought Gus might put the blame for that squarely on his own shoulders, but he spread it out through the team and the coaching staff.
I didn’t like Corey Grant being in the game in the 4th quarter, backed up near the Jaguars own goal line. Perhaps everybody else was hurt? No, Bradley said, “We had some plays for Corey in the offense.” Still, in the 4th quarter, with the lead and the momentum? It’s not time to try “some plays.” It’s time to have your best players in there who understand what’s at stake at that point in the game.
It was interesting to see the raw emotion of Bradley after a game, unfiltered. In the last two year he was able to keep everything in check, knowing that his team was ususally out-manned but it all came flowing out in this situation. Clearly he believes in his team, believes they’re “built” as he has mentioned before, but he also knows something’s missing.
“It’s the play after play, you know, what they call grit, where you do a play after play after play after play the right things. And you do it enough that when a mistake happens, you can overcome it. But right now, we’ve got to many. We are not showing the grit needed to sustain it.”
I asked Gus how the momentum could switch so quickly when they had scored 17 unanswered points to take a 24-20 lead. “Third and 15 and we failed to make the play. Was it the play? Could we have a better call? We had guys that had an opportunity to make plays. We didn’t make the play.”
And don’t think he didn’t notice the teal jerseys in the stands and the vocal fan support on the road.
“There’s no excuses for it. I do, I feel bad for our fans. How many, 7000? I saw them all in the corner chanting and we come out and we don’t play as well as we are capable of playing? THIS IS REAL! I feel for them. They come down like that, how can’t you. That’s just disappointing as well.”
There were some solid individual performances worth noting. Allen Hurns and Blake Bortles had plenty of stats. But the overall team loss changed Bradley’s emotions from confused and frustrated to angry.
“I hope this setback SHOCKS US TO GET THINGS RIGHT,” he said, his voice now booming. “I believe in these guys. The reason I am upset is because they are capable of better. I am not upset because we are not very good, we are capable of being better and we are not showing that. We have enough good players in that locker room to do better than what we are doing on the field. That’s a fact.”
And finally Gus said all is not lost. But it’s slipping away.
“The script isn’t done yet,” he said after being asked about the division race. “But I just think that right now, we need it, we all need it. Let’s get this thing right now. We are very capable of playing better than we did today. And we missed it, again.”
If you log onto News4Jax and click on the Sports tab, you’ll find the interview in it’s entirety. Turn the volume up to get the full effect.