Jaguars, Bradley Wobbling On The Tracks
by Sam Kouvaris
Posted October 24, 2016
I went to sit in the stands for most of the third quarter as the Jaguars were getting beat by the Raiders and heard some of the most lustful booing of the home team in recent memory. While the Jaguars defense was losing their cool, probably for being on the field so much, the offense couldn't execute the most routine play causing plenty of frustration on the field and in the stands. It's clear something's wrong with Blake Bortles and when you can't depend on your quarterback to lead and make the routine play you can't really have any kind of offensive game plan or momentum.
Bortles is clearing pressing and thinking too much instead of just making plays. It's something Bradley has talked to him about but to no avail. If you think Bortles is a little slower when processing the pro game then you could call this his "sophomore" slump. Perhaps it's taken until his third year to reach that point. But his inability to do the most basic things has to be addressed. It's in his head and it's gone on too long to just be a blip on the radar. Unlike college, you can't just sit him and let him watch for a while. He'll have to play himself out of it if you're going to stick by him as your starter. As they say in the NFL, "He's your guy until he's not. Then he's not your guy."
A loss on the record is one thing but the way the team lost their composure in the 4th quarter is something Bradley will have to address immediately if he wants to keep his job. Teams that have multiple unsportsmanlike and fighting penalties show a lack of respect for the game, their teammates and their organization. Getting sideways in the heat of the game is one thing. Having it breakout through the roster over the course of the game is completely different. It started with Dante Fowler jumping offside and lining up in the neutral zone twice in the first quarter and followed through Rashad Greene's fumbled punt and subsequent fielding of the next one on the one. Both players stayed in the game after a short conversation with their position coach and Bradley. Even to set an example, both of those players should have been standing on the sidelines for a while as a message to the rest of the players: do your job or get out of the game. I know Gus tries to take the pressure off players so they can play freely and to their best ability but without any fear of consequences, they're not figuring out how to make that work and win games.
Shad Khan's and in turn Dave Caldwell's expectations are that this team would be competitive throughout the season. Losing close games to better teams can be understandable. Losing to lesser teams and looking silly and unprofessional doing it is unacceptable.
Giving the power to the players to hold each other accountable is a laudable goal for the Head Coach but for Gus Bradley, this group of players isn't adapting to it and it shows. Marcedes Lewis spoke in the locker room after the game. Paul Posluszny said when Lewis speaks "It carries a lot of weight from an 11 year veteran." But we've heard the words before. "This can't happen, we're better than this," but unless they turn into action, and they haven't in the past, they don't mean much.
After beating Indianapolis in London, I didn't think that Shad Khan would consider making a move on Gus Bradley unless the Jaguars were embarrassed at some point the rest of the year. It's hard to qualify this loss as anything but embarrassing for the Jaguars. They lost the game and their composure and even when they had a chance to get back in it, they couldn't get out of their own way and created problems for themselves and chances for the Raiders. The offense basically scored 9 points on the worst defense in the league. And most of it comes back to the quarterback. If you don't know what you're going to get out of that position you can't play in the NFL. Since replacing the quarterback seem like an option right now, replacing Bradley might be, perhaps after Thursday's game at Tennessee if they don't come back with a win.
Bortles needs to snap out of it but the rest of the team needs to show some maturity and carry the weight of themselves and the guy next to them if they expect to win games. Right now the team, and the season are wobbling on the tracks. If they don't want it to completely derail, they'll need a culture change immediately.
To a man, the Jaguars say Gus Bradley is their guy and they'll do anything for him. If they want him around, they need to find an answer.
The first place they should look is in the mirror.