The Jacksonville Jaguars were in a complete state of disarray after the 2012 season. Former general manager Gene Smith constructed what might have been one of the most talent-deficient rosters in the modern NFL. Owner Shad Khan knew the rebuilding process would take a while, and he publicly stated patience when he hired new general manager David Caldwell. The same patience was also publicly afforded to head coach Gus Bradley.
Over the last 2 seasons, we’ve seen nothing from the ownership or front office to question their commitment to that patience. The Jaguars have only won 7 games over the last 2 seasons, but progress has been made despite the meager win totals.
All that said, year 3 of the rebuild is when we can really start judging the progress of the team on the field. Erik Lambert over at NFL Mocks has deemed Bradley as one of the coaches who needs to win now:
"Gus Bradley (Jacksonville Jaguars)The loss of Dante Fowler Jr. was not the way the Jacksonville Jaguars to start their season, but it doesn’t excuse head coach Gus Bradley from the task at hand. After two poor seasons, the time has come for expectations to grow and see progress in this young roster, especially second-year quarterback Blake Bortles. Safe bets say that finishing the season with a third-straight top five draft pick pretty much guarantees Bradley won’t be around to use it. The time for rebuilding should be over by now."
Lambert is speaking in generalities here, saying there needs to be “progress” and the team can’t finish with another top 5 draft pick. But how well does the team really need to do?
Losing Fowler was huge, but it’s more demoralizing off the field than anything else. The team can still be stout on defense given the other upgrades they’ve made this offseason.
As Lambert mentions, the real barometer here is the progress Blake Bortles makes. Bradley probably needs to win at least 6 games this season to have the confidence of the front office moving forward, but it’s significantly more important for Bortles to make tangible progress towards being an above average quarterback. He needs to be at least middle-of-the-pack statistically among all NFL QBs.
Ultimately, I would be shocked if Gus Bradley wasn’t the coach of this team in 2016.
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