Jacksonville Jaguars: Does Gus Bradley deserve a pass for first two years?


Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell is giving head coach a Gus Bradley a pass for his first two seasons with the team, but does he really deserve it?

Head coach Gus Bradley has been leading a team literally filled with young players for the first three years of his tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Is that enough of an excuse for general manager Dave Caldwell and owner Shad Khan to keep him around?

In his season-ending press conference, Caldwell mentioned that he doesn’t hold Bradley responsible for the failings of the Jaguars during his first two seasons. Caldwell cited the complete decimation of the roster after cutting the dead weight accumulated in former GM Gene Smith’s years at the head of the team. He went further and took responsibility for not giving Bradley enough talent to be competitive.

There’s no doubt that those first couple of seasons the Jaguars were absolutely bereft of talent, but does that really mean Bradley deserves a pass?

Going just 7-25 in his first two seasons combined, Bradley had a record that was decidedly among the worst in the NFL to begin his head coaching career. The first-time coach did not look to have game management under control and his team was frequently making mistakes that can be solved with better drilling and emphasis on fundamentals.

Was that just due to lack of experience or was it poor coaching?

Statistically one of the worst head coaches of all time, the partnership between Bradley and Caldwell to change everything with the Jacksonville Jaguars is truly acting as a partnership with Caldwell willing to take the fall for the head coach he picked to lead his team.

It may not seem ideal for the fans to “start” the Bradley tenure with his 5-11 2015 season, especially since the franchise is clearly three years into a massive rebuild. But after the disastrous roster management under Smith, can you really blame Caldwell for telling Bradley he has a pass?

At this point, I think it’s okay to give Bradley a pass. Yes, it would have been great to be more competitive in those first couple of years, but would other coaches have been able to do better? That’s the real question. Could another coach have gotten more production from the same set of players?

Maybe, maybe not.

Caldwell called it a minor miracle that the Jaguars won four games under Bradley in his first season. Does that credit Bradley as a better coach than we all thought?

What matters most, at this point in the Jaguars’ trajectory, is that the plan is working. The Jags are more competitive now than they were three years ago, they’re winning more games, and the talent is markedly better. Ideally, the Jags would be in the playoffs or nearer .500 at this point, but with no significant change in direction forthcoming, should we be satisfied with what Bradley has done as head coach?

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Frankly, no. We, the fans, should not be satisfied. We should be demanding a better team. But it’s getting there and if we’re talking about a more talented team that really started to come together in 2015, then it wasn’t a bad year for the franchise.

What do you guys think about Bradley getting a pass for his first couple seasons?