In a move that was less than surprising, the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to retain head coach Gus Bradley for the 2016 season.
The team issued a statement by owner Shad Khan.
“I spoke to Gus Bradley today to confirm to him that he will continue as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. It’s evident to see how far we’ve come in many aspects of our game, and Gus deserves a lot of credit for that progress. It’s also evident the considerable work that remains to be done to be where we expect to be at this time next season, which is well above where we stand today. And Gus understands that. Dave Caldwell and I also spoke today and we are both confident that Gus will make 2016 the best year of his career. In the meantime, I expect his coaching staff and team to respond favorably to this news in preparation for Houston on Sunday and then begin thinking about what more they can provide next season. We have high ambitions.”
With a 12-35 record through the better part of three seasons, did Bradley deserve to be retained?
For those who are arguing yes, there are some reasons.
The team made progress from 2014 to 2015 as they were in most every game, and have a chance to double their win total from a season ago.
This was while the team played most of its season without it's best defensive player, defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and tight end Julius Thomas missed the first five games of the year. They lost their best offensive lineman in Brandon Linder early in the year and struggled with a rookie kicker who missed some big field goals that would have won games (or kept from losing them).
There was plenty of adversity for Bradley to endure.
From where the Jaguars started when Bradley took over in 2013, the roster and team is significantly better, and he's helped develop a quarterback that looks like he's going to be a star in this league for years to come.
If you're arguing that Bradley doesn't deserve to be brought back, there's certainly a case for that as well.
The win-loss record speaks for itself. 12 wins over three years is one of the most futile runs in the history of the league. If you point to close losses in 2015, you can also use that against Bradley as those were games that the team could have won.
Three years is hardly a "revolving door" in the NFL. If you're worried about starting over from scratch, how much farther can you possibly drop?
The defensive side of the football is Bradley's calling card, and the Jaguars defense is no better than when he arrived. In fact, they might be worse and at the very least they don't have the talent to fit his scheme, and he hasn't done a good enough job of adjusting his scheme. This will likely lead to the ouster of defensive coordinator Bob Babich next week.
The problem with retaining Bradley is that Babich pretty much has to be let go. Which good defensive coordinator is going to work with a head coach that's on the final year of his deal? Especially one that hasn't proven that he can win. Gus is a great guy, but he doesn't exude much confidence as a winner that you'd like to work under if you're an established guy.
If you're going to give Bradley credit for the development of Bortles, that's fine. He must also share the blame in the numerous mistakes that the team makes on a week-in, week-out basis. Bad snaps, defense and special teams not lining up properly and schemes that generally have the team looking unprepared and overwhelmed against good quarterbacks on a weekly basis.
Getting back to the initial question, did the Jaguars make the right move in sticking by their head coach?
The organization has preached patience, but the patience of the fans is running out. Gus is a fantastic guy, but there's no reason to believe that his ultra-positive coaching style is going to work at this level.