Hot Seat Cooling Off For Bradley
By Troy Graham
Four, three, two, one, the countdown until the end of the regular season begins and generally any teams’ below .500 have a head coach under scrutiny. Every decision made will be under a microscope.
The late season charge by the Jags will not only benefit the young players on the roster who are proving the longevity of their careers, but Bradley’s stay in Jacksonville also. No, the team has yet to dominate any particular foe as of yet, and that probably won’t happen until far into the future, but the wins they are earning mean something.
It is commendable how the fiery coach was able to salvage this year by creating a better win/loss record than 2012.
"I thought Dave and Gus were absolutely the two right guys for the job, and as the season has unfolded, if I could be convinced more, I am,” owner Shahid Khan announced to NFL.com about General Manager David Caldwell and coach Bradley, just a couple weeks before the win streak started.
The Mike Mularkey one-year era last season in comparison to the Bradley era of this season stacks laterally with hardly any changes, but the quality of performanc has arguably progressed. In total defense in 2012, Jacksonville ranked 30th. This year they moved up five spots, still hideous, but a steady gain.
On the other hand, offense is a slight different story going from 29th to last. The curve ball in this equation is the quality of talent Mularkey had when side to side in judgment to Bradley’s. The defense last year had Rashean Mathis, Dawan Landry, Terrance Knighton , Daryl Smith, Derek Cox and Aaron Ross who are all starters this year for different teams.
Offense did not have as much turnover, but they started the season with a healthy Maurice Jones-Drew, not the sluggish 3.2 yards a carry Jones-Drew of now, and a healthy Marcedes Lewis. I would presume Bradley would make any excuses about lack of tools in his arsenal but every time the Jags play this year they are viewed as a knife in a gunfight.
The previous season had seasoned defensive coordinator Mel Tucker who is now in Chicago, meaning when Mularkey came in the system on defense did not change. For the former Seattle defensive coordinator in Bradley to come in and upgrade that side of the ball with rookies such as Jonathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, and Dwayne Gratz speaks volume not even mentioning the acquisitions brought in from free agency to complete the defensive line.
Nevertheless, yes the offense did go from crap to holy crap this year, but Jed Fisch’s play calling as a coordinator has won more games thus far despite not having the veteran star power which had led the team for over eight years .
“We don’t look ahead much, but I said (to the team), ‘We have a great opportunity with three games in a row,’’’ Bradley said during the team’s website interview. “What we need to see is every opportunity we get better. Get better this week, then carry that over.”
The Jaguars do not have any desire of looking forward, but I do, and I will go as far as saying once they win another game or two they could be seen as twice as productive than the year before. A losing record is a losing record and on this level coaches should never let their guard down, Lovie Smith the former Bears coach of 2012 is a prime example after finishing 10-6 and still was fired.
The Jags coach though should sleep better than the other losing teams this offseason shockingly, because he did indeed find water in a desert of talent, as he was setup for failure after taking the position.