With the Jacksonville Jaguars dead in the water after a supremely hyped offseason, everyone is left scratching their head wondering why Gus Bradley is still running this team.
It’s the question that some people have been asking since the end of 2015 and one that nearly everyone has been pondering since week 8 when the Jacksonville Jaguars were thoroughly embarrassed on national television by Mike Mularkey and the Tennessee Titans:
"Why on earth is Gus Bradley still the head coach of the Jaguars?"
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There’s an old adage that some analysts have been throwing around when the discussion of Bradley’s employment is brought up – firing a coach midseason doesn’t do anything. Historically there isn’t really a precedent for firing a head coach and turning a season around.
The Jaguars have only done that once, when Jack Del Rio was fired in 2011 and replaced by Mel Tucker once they were firmly out of playoff contention. Contextually, it made sense at the time because the Jaguars needed to usher in a new era and it had to begin with the head coach. Obviously some of the subsequent decisions were horrific and crippled the franchise beyond belief, but keeping Del Rio until the end of the season wouldn’t have made things any better.
Trying to apply this logic to Bradley is a little different but still more than appropriate. The Jaguars had playoff aspirations in 2016 and they’ve failed miserably. Bradley not only failed to lift the franchise up to contention, he actually succeeded in entrenching himself as the statistical peak of failure at the head coaching position. If the Jaguars were sitting here with 4 or 5 wins and the division was within striking distance, sure, by all means keep Bradley through the rest of the year. Keeping Bradley at this point is almost cruel.
Which brings me back to the original point – why the heck is Bradley still around? You have a perfectly adequate interim coach in Doug Marrone, someone who can run the team for the remainder of the season who almost certainly won’t perform well enough to warrant retaining after the season, but someone who can inject a different personality at the top.
There’s really only one reason why Bradley is still in Jacksonville – Shad Khan is sending a message to both him and David Caldwell. Khan isn’t afraid to fire coaches – he’s done so with his Fulham squad – so his hesitance isn’t one of apathy. Khan is telling coaching candidates around the league that he is willing to give his guys the chance to right the ship and to play things out. Luke Sims talked about this in the wake of the Tennessee blowout.
The other message, one that isn’t quite as explicit, is to David Caldwell. Khan is putting the onus on Caldwell to propose some effective changes at the end of the year to turn things around, starting with the dismissal of Bradley. I think Khan isn’t going to make any drastic moves with the front office until he consults with someone, maybe Tom Coughling (please), on what route to take.
Finally, I think the last message is almost vindictive – Khan is telling Bradley and Caldwell, two guys who told him to be patient and trust the process, that they have to stick around and wallow in this dumpster fire while it rages.
Black Monday still looms for Bradley, but for now he has to continue conducting the same painful postgame press conference for 5 more weeks.