It’s the only time I’ve ever seen Gus Bradley short with an answer in a press conference situation. When he’s asked about his job security, it’s a question he doesn’t want to hear or address. So when he was asked on Monday if he’d rather know his future in Jacksonville before coaching in the final regular season game at Houston, his answer was pretty clipped.
“No,” He said, tight lipped. “My mindset has always been to do what’s best for this organization and what’s best for this team. Just continue with that.”
Bradley’s not going anywhere. I know there’s a constant drumbeat on social media to move on from Gus and start anew but that’s not going to happen. Owner Shad Khan isn’t about to change the leadership of the team when he’s seen improvement and believes the team is on the verge of being competitive for the division title.
“Are we better than we were in year one? Year two?” Shad said when asked how he’d evaluate Bradley and General Manager Dave Caldwell at the end of the year. It’s clear Khan believes the team is better and that Caldwell and Bradley deserve a fourth year to finish the beginning of the process.
Anytime you ‘rebuild’ in the NFL, it’s a longer than expected process. And when that rebuilding includes a franchise, rookie quarterback, that process can be slow and painful. That’s what the Jaguars are experiencing right now. Those growing pains that come with tearing a team apart and putting it back together along with trying to shepherd a young quarterback into the league. Usually teams do one or the other, but not both at the same time.
If Bradley’s postgame comments that he echoed on Monday sounded familiar, it’s because they are. His team hasn’t been able to grab the consistency or the precision that necessary to win in the league all year long. It’s come in fits and starts with the hope it’ll be the standard they eventually achieve.
“This is a precision league,” Gus said at his Monday recap. “We knew what we were getting into. When I talked to the defense about it too, it’s one thing to talk about precision, its one thing to talk about execution and how you have to be on it, but it’s another to experience that, and we experienced it.”
Although the Jaguars knew they were eliminated from the postseason before kickoff in New Orleans, Bradley doesn’t believe it effected how they played. He thought the team lacked that certain ‘edge’ that’s necessary to play at the highest level.
“What I would say is that I think there’s a certain edge that you need to play the game with, and I think when you go in there and you totally trust your preparation, you’re very confident, you get to the point where you play with that edge. And we’ve got guys that have that edge but when you have that confidence to go out there to where an opportunity comes your way you can’t wait for that opportunity, that sort of an edge.”
Even though it’s the final game of the season, most players know they’re still being evaluated, not just by their team but by the entire league. The Jaguars have made some moves in the defensive backfield with Dwayne Gratz, DeMetirus McRay, Davon House and others but it hasn’t increased their ability to stop other teams in critical passing situations. Bradley isn’t afraid to send somebody to the bench and he’ll be looking at those guys this week in practice.
“I would like to see more productivity,” he said when asked about the defensive backfield personnel changes. “I think what we talked about earlier, that edge. You watch them and it’s pretty consistent but that edge to make a play, that edge that when your number is called you make a play. I think that’s the challenge that we’ve got to get our guys to, to the point when an opportunity comes to make it.”