Jaguars regroup, start to move on without fired Gus Bradley
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Little changed for the Jacksonville Jaguars without fired coach Gus Bradley.
Music blared from the practice field. Guys played table tennis and cards in the middle of a bustling locker room. Most of the hard feelings that followed Bradley's dismissal Sunday were gone two days later.
There was still a little lingering angst, most of it regarding how the Jaguars (2-12) handled the news. Several players said Tuesday they learned of Bradley's firing from social media while sitting on a bus and waiting to be shuttled to the airport in Houston.
''It was very surprising,'' veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny said.
It wasn't what many of them expected from owner Shad Khan and general manager Dave Caldwell. Khan and Caldwell decided late last week that Bradley would be let go regardless of the outcome against the Texans. Since the Los Angeles Rams had already fired Jeff Fisher, Khan and Caldwell didn't want to fall behind in the coaching search and didn't want to start the interview process with Bradley still employed and in the building.
Since Khan was in London that day, Caldwell delivered the news to Bradley following the 21-20 loss. Bradley then rode the team charter back to Jacksonville, an awkward flight in which the fired coach tried to say thanks to as many players, assistants and staff as possible.
''I don't think that was the right way to do it,'' defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. ''He had to ride the plane home back that way, but that ain't my call. They did it. They made the move. Gus was very cordial about it. Spoke with everybody. Came through the plane shaking hands and just talking with people. Gus has always been a great person in that aspect, but I don't think we as players were in the mood or were ready to actually see that at that moment.''
Days later, they were ready to move on.
''Guys were ready to go to work,'' defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. ''This has been a lot of talk for a while now. ... Gus got fired. The train doesn't stop for anybody. We've got to keep rolling and go out here and win some games or Khan's going to fire one of us, too.''
Interim coach Doug Marrone tweaked some parts of practice and meetings, but otherwise kept everything status quo for a team that has lost nine consecutive games.
''You don't want to really change a lot at this time of year,'' Marrone said. ''That may shock them and throw them off for what they have to do.''
Jacksonville hosts Tennessee (8-6) on Saturday.
Marrone held a meeting with several team leaders Monday, a chance for players to understand how the former Buffalo Bills coach wants to handle things during the final two weeks of the season.
It also made for a smoother transition heading into Marrone's first team meeting Tuesday.
''I did not see a team that felt sorry for themselves even though we understand we are all part of this wreck,'' Marrone said.
The Jaguars went 14-48 during Bradley's tenure, the worst winning percentage of any NFL coach with at least 60 games. Players figured Bradley's run was coming to an end since Jacksonville fell well short of expectations in 2016.
Now, players are left wondering who the next coach will be and what it means for their futures.
''I want to play these last two games as hard as I can, knowing that I may not have a future here,'' Posluszny said. ''You take it one game at a time and say, `I'm going to devote everything that I can to these last two games because this might be the last opportunity I get.'''
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