NFL

This Season Could Determine Gus Bradley’s Fate

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Following a disappointing 2015 campaign, the Jacksonville Jaguars displayed a surprising vote of confidence for head coach Gus Bradley.

Back in January, Bradley agreed to an one year extension, pushing his tenure through 2017. However, with that being said, there’s no guarantee the 49-year-old will return after this upcoming season.

No one was penciling Jacksonville into the playoffs prior to last season, but at the same time, an (5-11) season wasn’t supposed to be in the cards either.

“Like I said, you have to be real and understand that it is a results-driven league,” Bradley stated. “You look at that part and say how do you want to get the results? We talk in terms of victory in terms of being the best that you can be. You go back and look at it, well, what happened yesterday? Why didn’t we win? Well, we weren’t our best. It comes back to that. If you’re not at your best, then the results don’t come. That part of it is still the message, and we have to find out how to be our best consistently. We’re seeing it in different stages and units, but not collectively as a team consistently. That’s the truth. If you’re at your best, you have your best opportunities. That part of the message won’t change.”

As the Jaguars head into the 2016 campaign, expectations are as high as they’ve been in a very long time in North Florida and Bradley’s team isn’t shying away from the pressure.

“I don’t think you can make it pressure-free,” Bradley admitted. “I think it’s try to stay away from the things you can’t control. Why worry about those things? But if pressure is defined by things they can control I would say our players and coaches feel a lot of that. I would say its how you define it.”

For a franchise that hasn’t seen postseason action in nearly a decade, you could only imagine how thirsty this fan-base is for a winner and they appear to finally have the proper pieces intact to make it happen.

Offensively, the Jaguars showed flashes of what’s to come, as they averaged 23.5 points per game, which placed ahead of Aaron Rodgers and company, Jacksonville’s opening day opponent.

Nonetheless, things should run smoother in year two under offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

“I think so, definitely,” quarterback Blake Bortles stressed when asked about being more familiar with Olsen’s system and his own responsibilities. “I think the longer you’re in the system, the more comfortable you are in it and the more you can do with it. This year, we’re kind of worried about our offense and learning and having an understanding of what we’re supposed to as an individual be doing. And as a quarterback, you try and manage everybody and every position on your side of the ball. The longer you’re in and the better understanding you have of it, the more that allows you to understand what’s going on on the defensive side of the ball and how to attack them. When you know it like the back of your hand, then you can worry about the defense and try and get the offense in the right play.”

With young pieces such as Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, T.J. Yeldon and company, one must figure their offense will only get better with time; but it’s the defensive side of the ball where they have to show major improvement.

This offseason, Jacksonville did an excellent job of adding talent to that side of the ball.

In free agency, they’ve added defensive tackle Malik Jackson, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safety Tashaun Gipson and outside linebacker Bjoern Werner.

Also, in the draft, Jacksonville was able to obtain the super talented pair of Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack.

“It was good,” Bradley said. “I think we really addressed it and we felt like whatever we didn’t get accomplished in free agency, we felt like we could do it in the draft, so we’ll just continue to evaluate. I don’t think we ever look at any of the positions and feel like, ‘okay we’re good.’ I think we’re good on the fact that there’s strong competition and we feel like the guys will really elevate in this environment now even more, even faster. We’ll continue to see. I know Dave (Caldwell) and the scouts will continue to evaluate our roster and see that there’s areas we need to improve with personnel, but we made really good leaps and bounds here the last couple of months.”

Jacksonville ranked near the bottom of the lead in pass defense in 2015 and a lot of that has to do with their lack of pass rush. As a team, the Jags finished with 36 sacks, which ranked in the bottom half of the league.

With their revamped defense on paper, the hope is that they’ll be able to cause more havoc in opposing backfields.

During Bradley’s three year tenure in Jacksonville, he’s totaled an embarrassing record of 12-36. Considering the amount of talent on this current roster, anything less than a .500 record has to be acknowledged as a failure.

In actuality, Bradley may have to lead this team to the playoffs to secure his job.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.