Gus Bradley came to the Jacksonville Jaguars after putting together a few seasons of success as the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl right after he left and while that has to sting, what probably hurts more is the 7-25 record the Jags have put together under his first two years as head coach.
Brought to Jacksonville to provide some energy to the coaching staff and reinvigorate a franchise that had grown stale under former general manager Gene Smith’s regime, Bradley has successfully turned the culture around. Across the NFL, people consider the Jaguars an up and coming franchise under Bradley. With two years done in the rebuild and a third critical year rapidly approaching, a number of questions still remain. We’ll tackle four of them here.
Oct 26, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien (37) chases Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) during the first half of the game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
1) Where is the Defense?
Gus Bradley’s biggest fault perhaps is that the Jacksonville Jaguars defense simply hasn’t performed as expected. A defense guy, Bradley was expected to come to Jacksonville and turn a weak unit into a contender. Hiring Bob Babich, a man he has been attached to for some time, as defensive coordinator seemed like a step to bring in someone who knows Bradley’s approach to the game and wouldn’t get in the way as he installed his system. The Jaguars were primed to become Seattle South.
Instead, the Jaguars have struggled in most aspects of the defense. The defensive line – especially the interior defensive line – has been the lone star for the defense, playing their hearts out for the Jaguars and creating plays. The rest of the group, from the defensive ends to the linebackers to the safeties, have been a bit of a disappointment. The roster needed an overhaul, sure, but it was shocking to see the Jaguars essentially walked on by the opposition these last two years.
The Seattle Seahawks put it together after two years of mediocrity on defense. The Hawks ranked no higher than 24th in the league in yards allowed, points allowed, or takeaways in years one and two (2009 and 2010) of Gus Bradley’s time with the team. Years three and four (2011 and 2012) saw the Seahawks emerge as a top ten defense, ranking as the best overall in 2012. So far the Jaguars have been following a similar trajectory, ranking no higher than 24th in the league in yards allowed, points allowed, or takeaways. We can only hope they will emerge as a dominant defense in year three just like the Seahawks have.
It may be optimism to think that Bradley can do it the same way with the Jaguars, especially considering that the ‘Hawks haven’t missed a step since Bradley left. It may seem that head coach Pete Carroll had more of a hand than anybody else in building the Legion of Boom. We’ll have to see if Bradley can work the same magic in year three, otherwise we will all keep asking “where is the defense?” and Bradley may not have a job.
Next: What about the Offense?