As the new assistant coaches filed into the “Media Lobby” each one exuded the high energy, “Lets get this done” attitude that Gus Bradley is famous for. Bradley often talks about things being a “good fit” and reiterated that today when talking about hiring different offensive assistants in the last couple of weeks.
“Can you all work in the right direction? That’s what I was looking for in the interview process.”
Bradley said there are things about the football business that aren’t pretty when it comes to putting your staff together year in and year out. Bringing in Kelly Skipper as the running backs coach means he had to tell Terry Richardson he wasn’t working with the Jaguars any longer.
“Its just part of the business. Greg (Olson the new offensive coordinator) felt strongly about Skipper so we made that change. Terry did a great job for us but that’s just part of the business.”
Bradley noted that Richardson almost immediately had a new job at the University of Maryland as their running backs coach.
Hiring Greg Olson put some changes on the offensive staff in motion. Doug Marrone came in as the new Offensive Line coach and added assistant head coach to his title as well. Olson wanted Nathaniel Hackett as his quarterbacks coach so Frank Scelfo was pushed to a job called Senior Offensive assistant.
Marrone was the puzzling hire, not because he’s not the right guy but opting out of the head coaching job in Buffalo after an ownership change and landing as a position coach in Jacksonville didn’t seem to make any sense. Bradley said he didn’t ask Marrone why he left Buffalo. “I sensed a lot of humility in him.” Marrone was asked why he left Buffalo and said he didn’t have anything else lined up.
“It was a three or four day window and we made a family decision to leave and ended up here.” When I asked Marrone if he had settle in yet he said “absolutely.” Apparently his wife has some family in town.
As each assistant paraded through, I asked them about Gus’ commitment to the culture he’s trying to create here.
“You feel it as soon as you walk in the building,” Skipper said.
“It runs through everybody,” an excited Hackett blurted out. “I’ve only been here three days but I can hear it from everybody.”
Marrone admitted that the kind of environment Bradley has created doesn’t exist on every staff. “It’s great,” he said when asked about his input. “You owe it to the team to give your input and Gus welcomes that. You have to hear from everybody: sometimes you’re the guys who has to make the decision but taking input is important.” Interesting perspective from a guy who’s been a head coach and sees how he thinks this thing can work.
Bradley’s adjustments on his staff have brought a lot of experience and new ideas to the table. It’ll be the third playbook in four years for the Jaguars offensive players and although Gus has been looking for developmental coaches, he knows that making the players on the roster better now is a priority because winning games is going to be the barometer soon.
“We’re not going to run the Raiders offense or the Bills offense, ” Olson said echoing Bradley’s thought about where they’re headed on offense. We’re going to find out what Blake’s good at, what we can do and build around that.”
Bradley admitted that he thinks, “We need to run the ball. We missed some opportunities. We need repetition.” But he also acknowledged it has to happen fast. “A lot of work in a short time. Look at our current players, free agents, the draft. We’re working on all that.”
Bortles is working out in California, something Olson thinks is important. “He’s working with Drew Breese, Aaron Rodgers, he’s learning how to be a pro.” Bortles has plenty of company in California among his Jaguars teammates. And although the coaches can’t talk football with the players until April, it’s not keeping the players away from the stadium or working out. Thirty players showed up on Wednesday morning for lifting and a complete workout.