Jaguars' Bradley 'couldn't grasp' that offense would improve
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) After watching his offense mostly struggle for seven games, Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley lost faith that coordinator Greg Olson could turn it around.
So Bradley made a change. Bradley fired Olson on Saturday, two days after an embarrassing loss at Tennessee in which the Jaguars (2-5) failed to score in the first half for the third time this season.
Bradley addressed the move Monday, calling it difficult but necessary.
''I just felt like the offense needed to be stimulated more in certain areas,'' he said. ''I just think with our team and where we're at right now, the direction we wanted to go, we just wanted to have a little bit of a different vision. ... I just couldn't grasp in my mind that the results are going to change if we continue going in this direction.''
The Jaguars rank 26th in the NFL in total offense. They are 31st in rushing and last in third-down percentage.
Bradley promoted quarterbacks coach Nate Hackett to replace Olson. Hackett will call plays when the Jaguars play at Kansas City (5-2) on Sunday. Hackett spent two years (2013-14) as Buffalo's offensive coordinator. Now, he's the third in three years for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
''It's been crazy. It's been an emotional roller-coaster,'' Hackett said. ''It's hard to have him go. And then it's almost hard that I'm also very excited, `Oh wow, this is exciting!' And then you feel guilty being excited and then you realized we have a game in seven days and the players are like, `Oh gosh, who's this guy? What's he going to be doing?'''
Hackett brings a little more energy to the offensive meeting room. He also is expected to put more emphasis on the run game. The Jaguars have run the ball just 47 times for 207 yards in the last three games - not nearly enough for a team that invested in the ground game by drafting T.J. Yeldon in 2015 and then signing Chris Ivory in free agency in March.
''I have always felt the best thing in the world for a quarterback is the run game,'' Hackett said. ''I have always absolutely loved running the ball. I remember my first year at the Bills. I believe we were like one of the tops in the league. ... I think that you always are going to want to try and run the ball as much as you can and try to force that envelope.''
Equally important to fixing the team's sputtering running game is getting Bortles back to his 2015 form.
Bortles has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 1,904 yards, with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has struggled with his accuracy, partly because his motion has become so elongated that defensive backs are breaking on passes and linemen are batting down balls.
He's hardly looked like the same guy who ranked second in the NFL with 35 TD passes last season. Bortles said Monday he's bringing in QB guru Adam Dedeaux to spend two days fine-tuning his throwing motion.
Bortles said the two-day session will focus on footwork, which should translate to better upper-body mechanics.
''Everybody keeps telling me there are things wrong with him and I understand that because we're not winning, but he's also done a lot of really good things,'' Hackett said. ''Sometimes people try to focus on all the negative things with Blake. I don't really do that. I try to look at more of the positive things and see how we can do those more to get him into a more comfort level.
''If you don't have the run game, you put a lot more on him to try and throw the ball so many times and you're in those situations. It's not good for any quarterback, let alone a third-year quarterback, and that's now going to be on his third coordinator. ... We have to just be better on getting on the same page and helping him, which would then help everyone and everybody will be like, `Oh he's great.'''
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