The Day After: Coaching now the primary issue for the Jacksonville Jaguars
After 4 offseasons of supposedly upgrading the talent on the roster, the Jacksonville Jaguars are still getting blown out – what’s wrong?
When Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan completely rebooted the machine after the 2012 season, the argument could be made the team had the least talent of any franchise in the NFL by a fairly wide margin. “Franchise” quarterback Blaine Gabbert had all but entrenched himself as the worst starting quarterback in the history of the NFL, Tyson Alualu was struggling to look like a 7th round pick let alone the 10th overall pick, Maurice Jones-Drew was a shell of himself and looking for a new contract, and the team’s best player was their kicker.
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Before the start of the 2016 season, it appeared things had changed for the better. General manager David Caldwell had washed away most of the sins of former GM Gene Smith – Blake Bortles looks like the answer at quarterback, the team finally has some legitimate weapons on offense, and the defense looks stacked with young pieces. After 12 wins in 3 seasons, the Jaguars finally looked restocked with solid players and ready to compete week in and week out.
No more blowouts.
Or so we thought.
For the 4th straight season, the Jaguars were decimated by Philip Rivers with startling efficiency en route to a disturbingly easy win. Gus Bradley, a supposedly defensive mind, failed for the 4th straight contest to do anything to make life difficult for Rivers.
Why? The team is certainly more talented than it was over the last 3 years, shouldn’t the production be better?
At this point, it’s more than fair to say a huge component of what’s wrong with the Jaguars is the coaching. A reddit user had something very poignant to say amidst the pitchfork toting on the r/Jaguars subreddit:
Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country made effectively the same argument earlier this year after the end of the 2015 season.
The Jaguars have been drafting and signing free agents over the last 3 years in the hope of finding the right players for Gus Bradley’s scheme, but no one bothered to ask if it was a good scheme?
It always seems like the opposing coach is at least one step ahead of Bradley, if not more.
The logic behind promoting Bradley’s scheme is that the same one worked when he was the defensive coordinator in Seattle. Sure, the Seahawks had/have perhaps the best secondary ever, but the idea of simplifying the scheme to allow your players to play fast is a tried and true one.
As the two comments above highlight, it’s clear Bradley doesn’t know how to adjust the scheme to both fit the talent he has or to account for the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent. It always seems like the opposing coach is at least one step ahead of Bradley, if not more. Look, Philip Rivers is a hall of fame quarterback who’s had success against plenty of teams, but the level of success he’s had with such consistency against Bradley is cause for concern.
I’m not saying the Jaguars have an 11- or 12- win team, but they are too talented to get embarrassed the way they did on Sunday. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but a lion’s share falls on the head coach.