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NFL AM: Jaguars Give Bradley One Year Extension

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While nearly a quarter of the league made changes at the top of their coaching chart this offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars — coming off their fifth straight losing season — opted to stand pat with coach Gus Bradley and on Friday they doubled down on that bet, at least in theory.

The Jaguars announced early Friday that they have given Bradley a one-year extension on his contract, which had just one year remaining. In revealing the move, Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell spoke to the stability and continuity it provides the Jags, who would otherwise have entered 2016 with a lame duck head coach.

“For an organization that we believe is ready to make its move, extending Gus through the 2017 season provides our club with much-needed stability in every respect,” said Caldwell. “It solidifies Gus’ good standing with our current players, provides certainty for free agents who may be considering the Jaguars and helps to deliver the continuity throughout our coaching staff that we think is critical for us to turn the corner. It also gives us the best opportunity to win in 2016. I appreciate Shad supporting this approach as we enter a pivotal season with high expectations at every level of the organization.”

The news comes after a relatively unsuccessful search for a new defensive coordinator to serve under Bradley ended with Jacksonville promoting defensive line coach Todd Wash to DC on Thursday. And those two things may be tied together.

The Jaguars have talent on defense and with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, they’re likely to be in a position to add more. With that in mind, this particular coordinator job should have been an attractive one. However, it seems as though the Bradley’s lame duck status before Friday was a deterrent to potential candidates, which forced Jacksonville to settle for an in-house hire. After seeing this unfold, the Jaguars worried about free agents potentially feeling the same way about coming to play for a franchise that could be one losing season away from big change.

To the naked eye, adding a year to Bradley’s contract provides some stability and continuity. But I’m not sure who the Jags think they’re fooling here. Just one year doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Plenty of coaches have been fired with a year and change remaining on their contract. Bradley is simply in position now to collect more checks after his departure, should it come to that.

Make no mistake, extension or not, 2016 remains a make or break year for the coach and his staff. If that Jaguars don’t make marked improvement (a winning season is almost certainly necessary) they’ll be one of another handful of teams looking for a new coach next offseason. This move does little to disguise that to those in the know, including agents around the league and their clients. We’ll have to wait and see how strongly Jax is considered by some of the top tier guys on the market, after all, money still talks and the Jags have plenty to offer.

AMENDOLA FINED FOR PUNT RETURN HIT

New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola revealed to reporters on Friday that he has received supplemental discipline for the hit he put on Kansas City’s Jamell Fleming in last Sunday’s AFC divisional round game, in the form of a fine.

The hit happened after Amendola, New England’s punt returner, let a punt go inside the 10-yard-line and then attempted to remove Fleming, who was trying to down the ball, from the play. Amendola led with his head as he leveled Fleming and was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Of course, when the ball was downed inside the 5, that wound up being a two-and-a-half yard penalty. The fine was a little bigger than that. A hit on a defenseless player, which is what Amendola’s was ruled to be, merits a $23,152 fine according to league rules.

Amendola insisted after the play that the hit was legal.

“I thought it was a clean hit. We’re coached to do that. It’s a big play if I block that guy and the ball bounced in the end zone and we get the ball on the 20-yard line.”

However, the league clearly felt otherwise. In the moment following the hit, the internet blew up, with fans and members of the media suggesting that if Vontaze Burfict had delivered that same hit he would have been kicked out of the game and suspended.

While this is likely true, the reason it is so is because Burfict has a history of dirty hits while Amendola does not. A flag and a fine for a first time offender is a perfectly decent penalty for a dirty hit. It’s when you build a reputation for playing the game dirty that your penalties become more harsh. That’s the way it is and the way it should be. It’s actually one of the few things the NFL does right as it relates to penalizing players.

CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY INJURY UPDATES LIMITED

The Carolina Panthers enter Sunday’s NFC Championship game rolling again after last week’s big win over Seattle and a big reason why is the play of their defense, particularly the pass rush. But that unit may be without one of its driving forces this Sunday.

Defensive end Jared Allen has a fractured in foot, which has put his status in doubt for Sunday’s NFC title game against the Arizona Cardinals. Allen did practice on Thursday but limited, and coach Ron Rivera noted that if Allen isn’t himself, the league’s active sack leader won’t play. However he did leave the door open for Allen, should the 12-year veteran find a way to manage the pain and play effectively.

“The worst thing you want to do is put a guy out there and all of a sudden on the very first play he gets hurt again,” Rivera said. “Now you’re down to three rush ends. Now what do you do? So I have got to be convinced. I’ve got to be for sure. At the same time, I know he’s trying to get back and get himself ready to go. There’s a lot of things to take into consideration. It’s not just, ‘Oh, I feel good. It’s about the whole 60 minutes you’ve got to play, not that first minute on the field and all of a sudden something crazy happens.”

While Allen’s status is in doubt, Rivera did report that running back Jonathan Stewart, who has also been limited this week, is on track to play Sunday.

On the other side of the NFC Championship game, the Arizona Cardinals are about as healthy as they can be heading into Sunday, with no surprises on the injury report this week. Running back David Johnson was also limited by a toe injury in practice this week, but is expected to play, as is receiver John Brown, who is dealing with a shoulder injury. Cornerback Justin Bethel, defensive tackle Josh Mauro and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker were also limited, but coach Bruce Arians is anticipating all of them playing on Sunday.

The same is true of the Patriots and Broncos, who are both healthy as can be heading into Sunday’s game. In fact, the Broncos actually had every active player practice on Thursday, without even a single player limited. New England had a list of “limited” players a mile long, but that is always the case with the reigning world champs and all 16 of their limited players are expected to be ready for action on Sunday.

It’s rare that teams are this healthy this time of year as these four are. Granted all of these teams have gone through major injuries this season, with important players finding their way to injured reserve, but the fact that none of the four have had many new injuries pop up in the playoffs is impressive nonetheless, and a big part of why they all are one win from the Super Bowl.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys