With the loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars fell to 5-10 on the season, sealing double-digit losses for four years in a row. Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley fell to 12-35 for his career, and if he makes it three more games for the Jaguars as head coach, he will officially register with the second worse winning percentage of all-time for NFL head coaches, behind Bert Bell and ahead of Mike Shula.
I say if, because I think it's quite illogical to think it's a done deal that Gus Bradley's job is safe, though I don't think he will end up being fired. I do think however, Jaguars owner Shad Khan needs to think long and hard about bringing Gus Bradley back, regardless of the outcome in Sunday's game against the Houston Texans. If you win, you've beaten a Team in Week 17 that's already locked up the division and finish limping to an underwhelming 6-10 record. If you lose, you've just lost to Brandon Weeden. There's not really much you can take from the finale.
The biggest reason I say that Khan has a decision he needs to think long and hard about, is because entering 2016 you're entering the final year of Gus Bradley's contract as head coach and there is absolutely no way he gets an extension in the offseason. I think, at minimum, the team needs to relieve Bob Babich of his duties as defensive coordinator but if you're entering the season and then who are you realistically going to hire to replace him as a head coach on the final year of his contract and no job security?
Sure, luring Jim Schwartz to be the defensive coordinator would be fantastic, but why would he come to Jacksonville? Is Schwartz going to work under Gus Bradley and run his scheme? Is Gus Bradley going to finally relent and abandon his scheme? Everything we've seen so far indicates he won't, so the most likely scenario is an internal promotion, such as Todd Wash or Bradley himself taking over defensive coordinator duties.
Then what happens if the Jaguars end up 9-7 next season and miss the playoffs? Do you extend Gus Bradley? Do you let him walk after finally getting a winning record? If you let him walk, what happens with Dave Caldwell? The 2017 year is the final year of his deal. Do you give him an extension and let him hire a coach? Do you fire him and go full measure again?
Many people have argued that if the team finishes 6-10, that's what many people predicted prior to the season. That's true, that's what I predicted, but I also didn't predict that Andrew Luck would miss virtually the entire season. I didn't predict that both the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans would essentially play four quarterbacks, out of necessity. I didn't predict that the Jaguars would face four backup quarterbacks during the season or that teams like the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers would be dumpster fires.
I didn't predict the Jaguars would break two teams six-game losing streaks and two teams 11-game home losing streaks. I didn't predict that in Week 16 of the third year of a rebuild that they would have the worst defensive performance of the Gus Bradley era.
Finishing 5-11/6-10 based on how the season played out, frankly, is unacceptable.
Here's the kicker...
|Kansas City Chiefs
|Indianapolis Colts (London)
|San Diego Chargers
|Green Bay Packers
The schedule next season is significantly harder than it was this season, unless of course everything goes wacky again and the team is handed the easiest schedule in franchise history. The argument that the Jaguars are "in games" this season and they're "competitive" in the majority of games is a hollow point that doesn't really help in defense of Bradley.
The Jaguars have played just four teams with a winning record, one of which tipped over .500 on Sunday. Of the three winning teams they've played so far, they've lost to two of them by 10+ points and the other by five points. Sunday's matchup with the Houston Texans feels like it's going to be a rough one and if you want to count the first matchup with Houston as a game against a winning team, that's another 10+ point loss.
As I said, I don't think Gus Bradley ends up fired and I can't give a legitimate reason why. I don't think his job should be safe, nor does it deserve to be safe, and he should be fired. The arguments of it being a young team or the magnitude of the rebuild don't hold much weight when you're getting throttled by a quarterback on one leg in the second to last game of the third season.
Comically, when I ask people to give me a reason to keep Gus Bradley, the vast majority answer continuity on the offensive side of the ball. So they don't want to fire the head coach with a 12-35 record because they don't want to lose the offensive coordinator the vast majority of fans didn't want when he was hired.
The Jaguars have a Gus Bradley problem.