A head coach with a 12-36 record who has been the subject of scrutiny all three years in the NFL got a contract extension on Friday.
Gus Bradley, whose Jacksonville Jaguars have been a team perceived as an up and coming NFL franchise, won just five games in his third year as head coach with the organization. Say what you want, but management is committed to the former Seattle defensive coordinator and the progress the offensive side of the ball made in 2015. Now, it is time for the defense to show it can make the same kind of noise in 2016.
Along with Bradley’s contract extension, which calls for one more year added to the original deal, the team also announced it had promoted defensive line coach Todd Wash to defensive coordinator.
This all feels a lot like 2012 when it was announced the team was solid to current owner Shad Khan, head coach Jack Del Rio was fired and then general manager Gene Smith was given a contract extension. Make no mistake, however. This is a team in better position to win than it was a little over three years ago.
“For an organization that we believe is ready to make its move, extending Gus through the 2017 season provides our club with much-needed stability in every respect,” http://www.jaguars.com/news/article-JaguarsNews/Gus-Bradley-signs-one-year-extension/75fbbd99-5717-4d95-bed7-1aaccb4a60d6” target=”_blank”>General Manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement. “It solidifies Gus’ good standing with our current players, provides certainty for free agents who may be considering the Jaguars and helps to deliver the continuity throughout our coaching staff that we think is critical for us to turn the corner.”
The comments on Jaguars.com are pretty much true to form of the entire process both Caldwell and Bradley have believed in from the first day they started working together in Jacksonville. Caldwell was hired by Khan to replace Smith, who then hired Bradley to replace then head coach Mike Mularkey.
Now, with new parts in place and old parts still in working condition, it’s time to see if the defensive machine can get up and running, and most of all, improve over the past three seasons.
Wash appears to be a favorite with the players on the roster, so maintaining continuity was crucial in the process of getting better and bringing in high-priced free agents. To say the offseason will continue to be busy in Jacksonville is more truth than fairy tale.
Wash will be charged with improving a defense that finished second to last in points allowed per contest (28) and was woeful in pass rush and pass defense. Caldwell and Bradley have spoken publicly about the team’s need for more pass rushers and to find a free safety to help in coverage.
Eric Weddle of San Diego, Janoris Jenkins of Los Angeles and Tayshaun Gipson could all be targets in free agency and Jalen Ramsey could be a choice of the team out of FSU.
Bradley and Wash have been joined at the hip dating back to Bradley’s days at North Dakota State. Wash said in his press conference his defense will be more aggressive than in years past. Another move the defense could make is the use of Dante Fowler next year as a pass rusher.
“We have to make sure that we put him in position to be successful, not just standing up out there or putting his hand down,” Wash said. “At the same time, we have to stay within our package and put him in a position. He’s an explosive player.”
Fowler was the team’s first round draft pick in 2015 but never played a down. He tore his ACL in the very first rookie minicamp session with the Jaguars.