Jacksonville Jaguars’ patience will break NFL’s model
The Jacksonville Jaguars are bucking the trend for new coaches needing to win immediately, which could shake things up after 2016.
Immediate gratification has been demanded again and again in recent years by owners of NFL franchises.
From quarterbacks to head coaches, it is no longer enough to show slow-but-steady improvement. The team wants to be turned around immediately and become a threat, pushing for the playoffs and for a Super Bowl title.
It wasn’t always this way. The NFL used to be far more willing to be patient with some of the less-impressive head coaches, waiting to see if the stability they could bring would finally turn things around.
In looking at the coaching class of 2013 (in which Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was hired), only four coaches have remained: Andy Reid, Bruce Arians, Mike McCoy, and Bradley. Bradley easily has the worst record of the bunch, even worse than almost all of the four other coaches who were fired.
After three years of slogging it out with inadequate talent and some struggles on the coaching staff, Bradley may finally make the leap in 2016. Owner Shad Khan may finally be vindicated in sticking with his first-time head coach and betting on stability over flash.
This could shake things up in the NFL.
Conor Orr at NFL.com also makes this case, writing:
"All the planning, all the patience and all the saving has led to this moment. Fans of good football should root for the Jaguars because if they succeed, more owners will take notice and realize that there is a light at the end of the patience and process tunnel. For that to work, the team needs to win at least nine games and push for a wild-card spot. We think that will happen, despite the fact that Jacksonville has had five straight seasons with five or fewer wins."
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That patience and process tunnel is too long for many owners and bases. Turning around the product on the field
be done quicker than that and yield results (just look at fellow 2013 coaching hire Chip Kelly) but they can also yield less desirable results (look at Kelly again or Jim Harbaugh) which can fracture a team. It may be worth it to get a few good seasons out of ahead coach before it all falls apart, but that’s hardly the key to long-term success that could span decades.
Bradley need to win big in 2016 for both the Jaguars and for the future of the NFL. He needs to show that there is a way to be a winner even if the first few seasons are not impressive. He needs to show that there’s more to football than simply creating a few gimmicks that give you an advantage for a season or two before others figure it out.
There’s a real shot that Bradley can shake up the NFL landscape in 2016. I hope he does and I hope the Jags pull ahead enough to prove Khan right. It’ll make for a far more interesting NFL in coming years.