Jaguars introduce new coach Gus Bradley
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Gus Bradley’s trip to the East Coast was supposed to be a one-day deal.
The plan was to interview with Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday and return home to Seattle.
Then the Eagles asked him to stay the night. And then the Jacksonville Jaguars called.
Good thing Bradley packed an extra suit.
Bradley’s whirlwind week ended with him being introduced as Jacksonville’s fifth head coach Friday. And if his new team plays with as much energy as the former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator brings to the table, then it shouldn’t take long for the Jaguars to get back to on track.
“You’ve got to be genuine, you’ve got to be you,” Bradley said. “There are guys that have great passion, but no substance. Then you’ve got guys with great substance and maybe you don’t feel the passion. Somehow you want both. I’m not trying to be a yeller or screamer. It’s just me.
“I’m excited about this opportunity. If you want to put me in that category, then put me in that category. But don’t take away my spirit. I’m going to do everything I can to not let that get taken away.”
A video of Bradley screaming at players to “do your job!” has gotten positive reviews in Jacksonville this week. And the coach got so wrapped up in talking about his new team Friday that he forgot to introduce his wife and four children.
His interview with owner Shad Khan and new general manager Dave Caldwell lasted 14 hours Wednesday, a captivating question-and-answer session that included football talk, countless stories and a strong vision for the small-market franchise.
Caldwell offered Bradley the job after dinner Wednesday night. He signed a four-year deal the next day.
“I know I’ve found the right man in Gus Bradley,” said Caldwell, who took the GM job last week. “His passion, his energy, his attention to detail, everything that makes him up as a true football coach is what we have today. Gus is a leader of men and he will bring a positive, passionate energy to this city, to this team and to this organization.”
Khan sat through most of the lengthy interview and quickly signed off on Bradley, who spent the last four seasons in Seattle.
For Khan, the hire marked a clean slate from the previous regime. Former owner Wayne Weaver convinced Khan to give general manager Gene Smith a three-year extension in November 2011, and Khan put Smith in charge of last year’s coaching search that started and ended with Mike Mularkey.
But the former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator failed to make the Jaguars better in his first season. Jacksonville finished 2-14, the worst record in franchise history. The team failed to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
Khan responded by firing Smith and hiring Caldwell, whose first decision was to oust Mularkey.
“When you look at the amount of time and the amount of resources we spent and what we had to show for it, very little,” said Khan, adding that the team spent $141 million in 2012. “Then you say, `What do I have to do? What is the right thing to do?’ We have to start fresh and we have to get people that believe in the mission and people who aren’t going to throw their hands up.”
Caldwell interviewed Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden before striking a deal with Bradley.
Khan reiterated that the Jaguars are in rebuilding mode, a stark contrast to the picture Smith and Mularkey painted for the new owner before last season.
“Patience is one thing, but to me the most important thing is honesty about ourselves and where we are,” Khan said. “I think it’s very, very important not to be — the word is delusional.”
Bradley realizes he’s got plenty of work to do in Jacksonville.
After mostly whiffing in the draft and in free agency in recent years, the Jaguars lack playmakers on both sides of the ball.
But Bradley has a history of turning young players into stars. Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin, rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner, safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Chris Clemons all blossomed under his tutelage in Seattle.
“Our full objective and our whole focus were on just getting better,” Bradley said. “It wasn’t on winning this or winning that, or this was a big game, it was just every opportunity was a chance to get better. Get better. Everything we do to compete and do it better than it’s ever been done before and let’s see where it takes us now. If we do that I like our chances.”
Bradley didn’t rule out keeping some of Mularkey’s assistant coaches or calling defensive schemes himself. He said Seattle defensive line coach Todd Wash and Chicago linebackers coach Bob Babich are “in strong consideration” to become Jacksonville’s defensive coordinator.
“Let’s bring some enthusiasm to Jacksonville like the city deserves,” he said. “And we’re trying to find coaches that have that same type of demeanor.”