Bradley's message: Jags' new test is handling prosperity

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars coach Gus Bradley knows his team can deal with adversity.
After all, it bounced back from an 0-8 start with four double-digit losses to win four of their past five games and three in a row.
Five weeks ago, the Jaguars were the worst team in the league and being touted as one of the worst ever. Now, they're among the hottest teams in the league after beating the visiting Houston Texans, 27-23, Thursday night.
Bradley's next goal is to see how his team deals with prosperity, and he told his players a story.
"We had a story in the team meeting about unknowns," he said. "If you're walking down a sidewalk and you see two guys sitting on a park bench which one do you say hi to? Or do you even say hi? One might be wearing a suit and one may not.
"I asked the players and they said we would have said hi to this one or we would have said hi to this one and I said, no, you treat them both the same regardless. And the reference was back to not only that but we treat these two imposters the same, adversity and prosperity. You tell it with a story to give them (the) message. Maybe there will be a comment that maybe people doubted us, but we don't have to go there. You didn't do it when we had adversity, don't do it now but guys feel like they have to and maybe have some frustration but we'll teach them off of it and take care of it," Bradley said.
Bradley's approach is somewhat unorthodox but it seems to be working.
When they were losing, he said improvement each week was the key thing, not winning.
And he has the same theme now.
"I think there are some people that compete and are motivated eternally," Bradley said. "To me, I think it's stronger if you're motivated internally and I'm trying to train myself to be that. Wins and losses are external so I don't want to go there. I don't want to be motivated through wins and losses. I want to be motivated externally, so that's where I'm trying to go and that's what I want to train our team to do.
"That's why you're not hearing me talk about wins and losses. I don't want them to be motivated that way. I want them motivated to be their personal best and then that will take care of itself. That's what I think our challenge is. I think they're going through that phase of it. I feel like we are doing this together."
The Jaguars now get 10 days off before they play Buffalo in their next home game following by a home game against the Tennessee Titans, a team they have already beaten on the road.
That means the Jaguars have a shot at a five game winning streak and six wins in seven games going into their season finale at the Indianapolis Colts.
Still, Bradley will continue to insist the wins aren't his motivation.
--On Friday, Jaguars linebacker LaRoy Reynolds' four-game suspension for violating the PED policy ended and he was allowed to re-enter EverBank Field to meet with teammates and coaches.
Reynolds was suspended without pay Nov. 12 by the NFL for violating the policy on performance enhancing drugs.
At the time of his ban, Reynolds was tied for the Jaguars' lead with six special teams tackles.
The Jaguars will likely place Justin Forsett on the season-ending injured reserve list when they decide to activate Reynolds. Forsett has a foot injury.
Coach Gus Bradley said of Reynolds, "I look forward to meeting with him. We'll get him right back in the mix."
--CB Alan Ball suffered a neck injury Thursday night but returned and will be evaluated next week.
--S Chris Prosinski suffered a concussion Thursday night and is in the concussion program.
--WR Ace Sanders suffered an ankle injury, but returned to the game Thursday night and is expected to play next week.
--WR Cecil Shorts suffered a groin injury but should be ready in 10 days for the next game.
--RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who gained 103 yards, had a hamstring strain will get an MRI.
--S Josh Evans missed the Houston game with a shoulder injury and will be evaluated next week.
--WR Stephen Burton missed the Houston game because he is in the concussion program.
--RB Justin Forsett is out with a foot injury and will probably go on the injured reserve list.
PASSING OFFENSE: C - Chad Henne didn't put up big numbers, passing for only 117 yards and an 81.9 passer rating and had a pick called back by a penalty. Still, he threw two touchdown passes and a 41-yard completion to Marcedes Lewis to set up a score. But he got the victory and is 4-1 the last five games. Wide receiver Ace Sanders threw a 21-yard touchdown pass.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B - Maurice Jones-Drew posted his first 100-yard game of the season, gaining 103 yards on just 14 carries before going out with a strained hamstring. He had a 48-yard burst and is running better lately after getting off to a slow start while recovering from a Lisfranc injury. Chad Henne added 33 yards in four scrambles.
PASS DEFENSE: C plus - Young Case Keenum was lifted in the third period for Matt Schaub. They both threw 29 passes with Schaub completing 17 and Keenum 16. Schaub had 198 yards passing and Keenum 159, so they combined for 357 yards. Each had a touchdown and each threw a pick. Despite all the yardage, Schaub got the Texans to the Jaguars' 13 twice in the fourth period, but got only three points and then threw an interception with two minutes left that sealed the decision.
RUSH DEFENSE: B - The Jaguars held Ben Tate to just 53 yards in 14 carries for an average of 3.8 yards per carry. Case Keenum and Matt Schaub combined for 20 yards as each scrambled once but the Texans virtually abandon the running game once Schaub came in.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C - The special teams were kind of a wash as each team had two field goals and Bryan Anger averaged 37.5 net punting yards and Shane Lechler checked in at 38.6 for the Texans. Justin Todman had a 29-yard kickoff return and Keshawn Martin had a 24 yarder for the Texans.
COACHING: A - Gus Bradley kept his team playing hard after it started out 0-8 and they have won four of five. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has dialed up a touchdown pass by a wide receiver or running back two weeks in a row. It's the first time a player who wasn't a quarterback has thrown a touchdown pass in team history. Maurice Jones-Drew did it in Cleveland and Ace Sanders did it against Houston.

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