Jaguars' Bradley wants to 'get this right' next season
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley understands that the NFL is a bottom-line business.
He has 12 wins in 47 games, hardly the kind of success rate that garners the benefit of the doubt. So Bradley had to be a little relieved - even though he didn't acknowledge it - that owner Shad Khan announced he would return for the fourth and final year of his contract.
''I don't want to say I don't ever concern myself with my job,'' Bradley said Wednesday. ''I think it's out there, but I really try not to. All my attention is for this organization and for our players and how do we get this right and how do we keep improving rapidly. So I don't concern myself with that.''
Although Bradley's job never really seemed in jeopardy, players welcomed the chance to maintain the culture Bradley installed and deliver better results in 2016.
''There's a lot of pressure on ourselves for next year as far as we know what we're capable of and it's time to start actually getting it going on a consistent basis,'' second-year receiver Marqise Lee said. ''That's what we'll focus on.''
Although Khan didn't provide specifics on what Bradley needs to do to stick around beyond next season, more wins have to be part of the equation. Khan said ''considerable work'' needs to be done to ''be where we expect to be at this time next season, which is well above where we stand today.''
The Jaguars (5-10) have lost four of five heading into their season finale Sunday at Houston (8-7).
''I think you're evaluated by wins and losses. That's the reality of it,'' Bradley said. ''But I do know that if you look too far ahead, it's hard to be successful. It's just a fact of life. I think if you focus on each day and handle it that way, you have a much better chance. So we just try to stay in that world.
''This journey, we knew it was going to be tough. We knew it was going to be tough on the organization, on the players, on our fans. And our fans and our community and Shad, they deserve better. We all understand that. It didn't come out the way we had hoped, but progress was made. But we also understand we need to be better and we've got to get it fixed.''
The defense is the part that really needs work.
Jacksonville set several offensive records this season, with Blake Bortles throwing for 4,189 yards and a team-record 35 touchdowns, and Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns becoming the franchise's first pair of 1,000-yard receivers since 2001. Robinson (75 catches for 1,292 yards and 14 TDs) and Hurns (61 catches for 1,013 yards and 10 TDs) are the first duo in NFL history age 24 or younger to each top 1,000 yards and register double-digit scores.
But the other side of the ball was filled with issues, mostly because of a lack of pass rush. The Jaguars have 34 sacks and rank last in the league in third-down defense, allowing teams to convert 46.2 percent of the time on the all-important down.
''We feel like Gus has created a great culture here, that we just need to take advantage of as individuals on this team,'' veteran defensive tackle Roy Miller said. ''We have a lot of room to improve as a defense. We just need to do it. We need to execute the plays that are called and grow up. I hate to say it like that, but we've got the players. We've got what's necessary. We just got to execute.''
Khan gave Bradley reassurances about his future during a phone conversation Tuesday. Bradley said Khan didn't ask for a plan to get the defense turned around or demand any personnel or scheme changes.
''He's been great,'' Bradley said of the billionaire owner. ''I think there's some things that both Shad and (general manager) Dave (Caldwell) appreciate: the culture, the process, the progress that's taken place. But I think we all fully understand that we need better. I think all of us know it. I think the coaches, the players, we expect to be better.''
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