As everyone knows, the Jaguars got absolutely steamrolled by the Titans on Thursday Night Football. The team was completely outmatched, they didn’t do anything well, and they looked woefully unprepared, as always. That’s ok though, right? It at least meant Gus Bradley would finally be fired, and the Jaguars could move on from the second worst coach in NFL history.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan spoke to the Times Union after the game, and stated that Gus Bradley would not be fired.
Khan says no coaching change.— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) October 28, 2016
I mean, what the hell? This is a joke right? Is it April 1st, and nobody told me? Shad Khan has done a lot of great things since buying the Jaguars, both for the team and the city of Jacksonville. But if he remains true to his word, and Bradley is retained, a lot of the goodwill he has built up with fans will quickly dissolve.
First off, this isn’t going to do you any favors with attendance. Can you imagine what the stadium will look like in two weeks when the Jags return from their inevitable beatdown in Kansas City, and Gus Bradley is still the head coach? Get ready for those re-location rumors to start swirling, because there’s going to be a lot of pictures of an empty Everbank Field. Immediately stating you are retaining a head coach after that pitiful performance on national television is going to be perceived as a huge middle finger to the fans.
Also, what good is this going to do with the current Jaguars players? Doesn’t this just reinforce the label that has been applied to Gus Bradley, that winning doesn’t matter? What has Gus Bradley shown that warrants him being kept on the rest of the season? I know I saw a lot of people, including Bill Cowher and Deion Sanders at halftime, saying they saw the players quitting. I saw the same thing, to be honest, and I found it really interesting that we saw that a few days removed from Shad Khan’s rare meeting with the players and coaches. Were the players trying to send a message, or were they really so bad that it looked like they had just given up?
The refusal to dismiss Gus Bradley could also have major negative impacts for the team in the future. What free agent is going to want to sign on with a team that is consistently terrible, and then never faces any repercussions for underperforming? You could probably sign people like Hugh Douglas and Aaron Ross (Jacksonville was their ‘vacation’), but forget getting a true competitor to sign on. We’ve seen in recent weeks that players who are not used to losing, like Malik Jackson and Jalen Ramsey, are starting to lash out because of their frustration with the team’s performance. You think players like that will want to sign another contract with a team that isn’t showing any signs of stepping forward, but in fact looks like they’re stepping back?
I’m not saying that firing Gus Bradley will magically fix all of the problems the Jaguars have, because it won’t. The Jags are in a bad way right now, and it’s not something that’s going to be fixed in-season. They need to completely reset with a new culture, and that unfortunately won’t happen until 2017. However, allowing Bradley to keep coaching this team is just reinforcing the notion that the Jags are not a franchise that prioritize winning.
Shad Khan had his meeting with the players and coaches to figure out what was going wrong, and how he could help fix it. But unless he goes back on his word, and actually does fire Gus Bradley, he will not be helping anything. He’s actually just making it worse.