It’s a luxury Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell enjoy in 2013 the virtually no other coach and GM tandem has in the NFL: They don’t have to win.
When Shad Khan bought the team in 2012, then General Manager Gene Smith thought the Jaguars were just a few pieces away from being competitive. When he hired Mike Mularkey as the Head Coach the two of them assessed the roster and thought that through the draft and free agency they might make the Jaguars competitive last year. With that as their template, they told Khan that spending a little money and moving up in the draft would give the Jaguars the pieces they needed to be in the mix at the end of the year. So Khan agreed to spend about $60 million to acquire Aaron Ross, Laurent Robinson and re-sign Jeremy Mincey. They also picked Justin Blackmon in the first round of the draft, filling a glaring need at WR.
And for their money and efforts?
The Jaguars had a two-win season.
It wasn’t that the team only one two games. It was that Khan, as a first year owner, had given the people he put in charge the tools they asked for and they didn’t get it done. So he decided the decision-making was flawed and changed the management team.
In 2013, Bradley and Caldwell didn’t make any promises or even say they’d be competitive this year when it comes to wins and losses. Bradley always says, “We’ll compete till the end,” but there’s never any talk about wins in the Jaguars offices. Because if you lower the expectations, and say you have a plan, there will be a honeymoon period.
Hard to say but they all know they won’t win this year and any kind of success will be a bonus. Next year they’ll have to be vastly improved and in year three they’ll be expected to compete for the division title. That’s not to say that they can’t catch lightning in a bottle. Look at what the Colts did last year with a rookie quarterback and no expectations.
So while it’s hard to predict what measure of success the Jaguars might have, these guys have some time to get it right.
Not a lot. But some.