The Jacksonville Jaguars were praised for showing plenty of patience with their rebuild, but it was all for naught.
When David Caldwell took over as general manager after the dismal 2012 season, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan knew this team needed a full-scale rebuild that would take time and patience. Gus Bradley seemed like the ideal head coach at the time given his outwardly positive personality and motivational tactics.
It wasn’t a surprise when the Jaguars only won 7 games over the first two years with Bradley – the team knew they were going to struggle as they worked to acquire talent through the draft.
At first, the plan was to start competing in year 3 (2015).
They went 5-11.
The Jaguars decided to give Bradley another shot with a roster allegedly stacked with talent.
The Jaguars are 2-12 so far in 2016.
The signs were there that Bradley needed to go in 2015, but Khan and Caldwell erred in being too patient with the maligned coach. Now the Jaguars have to find someone willing to take over a flawed roster with a massive question mark at quarterback.
Bill Barnwell over at ESPN took some time discuss Bradley’s dismissal, juxtaposing the patience shown in Jacksonville to the similar rebuild performed in Oakland. Clearly the results have been very different, inciting Barnwell to say ‘Patience is a virtue … sometimes.’
The Jaguars took a little bit of criticism for bringing back coach Gus Bradley this season after going 12-36 during his first three years at the helm, but the Jags seemed to make headway last year by improving from 3-13 to 5-11. With Blake Bortles expected to improve, it appeared Jacksonville might have been smart to grant Bradley a fourth season in charge.
It didn’t work out. Bradley was fired after that heartbreaking loss to the Texans on Sunday amid a 2-12 season. Ironically, while the offense collapsed, Bradley finally delivered on the promise he came over with from Seattle and began to develop a talented young defense in Jacksonville. The Jags were 15th in defensive DVOA heading into the week, with exceptional Jacksonville draftees Jalen Ramsey and Telvin Smith each picking Osweiler off during the first half. Ramsey, in particular, was exceptional against DeAndre Hopkins before Hopkins began to get his in the second half.
I wouldn’t really call it”irony” that the defense is finally playing well – the Jaguars have some legitimate talent on that side of the ball now. If anything, it’s an indictment on Bradley that he and his scheme need transcendent talent to field a respectable defense. Bradley failed to adjust over his first three seasons (he also did at times this year), but I don’t think he deserves that much credit for FINALLY putting together an average unit on the defensive side.
Now the focus turns on David Caldwell, who we know will be back and conducting the head coach search.
Caldwell inherited one of the league’s least-talented rosters from Gene Smith, and the lessons learned from McKenzie and the Raiders may be instructive. It’s critical that the Jaguars create an infrastructure in which Bortles (or whoever ends up playing quarterback for Jacksonville in the next three years) can succeed, and that will likely require an offensive-minded head coach (Josh McDaniels? Jim Bob Cooter?) and/or an offensive coordinator with significant experience molding young quarterbacks into successes (Norv Turner?). You would also forgive the Jaguars, having been burned by their patience with Bradley, for wanting to move on from their general manager as well.
I have my preference for the next coach, but I’ll continue to be skeptical until somebody gets this team to win.