Of all the things Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley has said in the last few weeks about the Jaguars performance and lack of success, perhaps the most insightful has been about the “stage” the Jaguars are in at this point in their development. Bradley points at the double-digit losses in 2013 and 2014 and how the team has grown since then. Getting into one-possession games in the fourth quarter is what the NFL is all about. A one score game can change with the next possession: If the team behind scores, they grab the momentum. If the team leading scores, the game is basically over.
That’s why Sunday’s win in London could be considered a step in the right direction for the Jaguars. Having built a big lead in the first half, they fell apart in the third quarter but regained the lead late and held on for victory.
“There’s a lot to be said about this game,” Bradley said, his voice hoarse from his in-game exhortations.
“We’ve got to go back and look at some things. To have a lead like we did and not complete it like we wanted to, but with that being said, I think there’s a lot of good things about our team.”
For a few weeks, Gus has talked about “the grit” that’s necessary to get past those bad situations in games. Against the Bills, he said the team had it. “The grit that we’ve been talking about, the turnovers on defense, the pressure on the quarterback, the offense coming through. In all three phases there’s work to be done but all three phases came through for us in some way or some fashion. I thought it was an awesome environment, great opportunity for our players.”
After blowing a 27-3 lead, the Jaguars scored late to win 34-31. It doesn’t happen without the development of quarterback Blake Bortles as a second-year player.
“I thought he showed tremendous poise. I thought the whole team did offensively, but he did, “Bradley explained. “He made some plays. I thought Allen Robinson came up big in that series, too, Allen Hurns, so just showed great poise.”
There’s been a lot of talk about validation for the Jaguars, getting a win after all of the work put in without anything to show for it.
“It really is, but that’s what we’ve seen in this team. We’ve seen it all year where they’ve come back and fought back, but it never showed the results that we had hoped.”
It was a wide swing of emotions in this game, from confused, to elated to shock to jubilation all in four quarters. But Bradley says there was never any despair. He believes his team believes.
“They might have said, let’s go, man, we can get this thing done. But when you hear them talking like that, just regroup and let’s go. We’ve still got time. That was more the conversation.”
After the nearly nine hour plane ride home, the Jaguars had Monday off with Gus Bradley and the payers scheduled to speak on Tuesday. They’ll have had a chance to look at video of the game and tell us what they though about four shots at the goal line without a TD and other failures as well as the success they had at the beginning and the end of the game. Since it’s the bye week, the players are required to have four days off, so they’ll practice Wednesday and return to work the beginning of next week.