Gus’s goose is almost cooked.
After watching the undisciplined Jacksonville Jaguars flail around without purpose against a middling Tennessee Titans team, it’s impossible not to think that head coach Gus Bradley is in real peril.
The Titans beat the Jaguars, 36-22, on Thursday night, and Bradley’s record as a head coach fell to 14-41 — a .255 batting average, which is the worst win percentage for a coach with 50 or more games since the 1940s. Midway through his fourth season, the progress of this talented roster has been nonexistent; in fact, the 2-5 Jaguars have regressed.
In a week when Jaguars owner Shad Khan met with the team to ask “why are we not winning and what can we do to fix it?” all he needed to do was wait for Thursday night to peer down from his luxury suite for the clearest of answers.
Midway through the second quarter it was beyond obvious the Jaguars were quitting on their coach — on this night, anyway. The Titans had outgained the Jaguars, 260 yards to 35 at that point, and the one statistic in which the Jaguars held an unmistakable edge: mental mistakes.
The game could be summed up on two straight plays right then: clunky Titans tight end Phillip Supernaw weaving through awful tackle attempts for 30 yards (and it would have been 44 had he not stepped on the sideline) and 14 more yards the next play when DeMarco Murray cruised past lethargy to the eleventh power for an easy touchdown run. It was 24-zip at that point and goodnight, Gus.
The Jaguars’ drafts and free-agent additions brought hope and talent, but on Thursday all those gifted players did their best to show just how undisciplined this team is under Bradley’s watch. The 354 yards the Titans gained in the first half, many of them coming on broken tackles and missed assignments, were the most by an NFL team in a half this season.
Even a second-half flourish of sorts by the Jaguars — another case of too little too late — aren’t likely to be enough to save him now. To the fans suggesting the Jags use more of the hurry-up offense, we beg of you: That’s not what’s holding this team back. Certainly not more than the complete and utter lack of order with which they play on almost a weekly basis.
Quarterback Blake Bortles had a miserable first half, which has become the norm this season. CBS analyst Phil Simms said early in the broadcast that Bortles admitted to him this week that his screwy delivery (in which he sometimes brings the ball to his hip before throwing?) has gotten longer and that “he doesn’t know why.” That’s awful — and those crummy mechanics were a big reason why Bortles was 8-for-16 passing for 64 yards in the first half.
A week after getting ejected, would-be star corner Jalen Ramsey committed another stupid penalty, hitting Supernaw for no reason after an incompletion. It extended the drive, which ended in a Titans field goal. The Jaguars coaches took Ramsey out after that but quickly put him back in. Later, Ramsey was burned for a 16-yard completion to Rishard Matthews on the Titans’ first TD drive and took an awful angle to the ball on Derrick Henry’s 6-yard TD run. On top of that, Ramsey started trash talking. After his team was scored on.
You want more? The Jags have got you covered in sad spades.
Well-paid running back Chris Ivory was dangerously close to committing Butt Fumble 2. Former first-rounder Dante Fowler Jr. reminded us he was playing by committing a Ramsey-esque 15-yard late penalty after losing his cool. Former second-rounder T.J. Yeldon caught a pass, fell down, got up and stopped running even though he hadn’t been touched; he almost fumbled it, too. All of these happened when the game was relatively close, too.
Former fourth-round corner Aaron Colvin blew his coverage on Kendall Wright’s 36-yard touchdown catch. Arrelious Benn, the hero in the win over the Chicago Bears, committed an awful kick-catch interference penalty most rookies know better than to commit. And on and on it went …
This team is trash because it’s not being held accountable for its self-inflicted trashiness. When asked by CBS’ Tracy Wolfson at halftime if the Jaguars had given up, Bradley said no and then said his team was “pressing too hard.” When asked by Wolfson if Bortles would be benched in the second half, Bradley just said no. If we knew that “pressing too hard” could count as an excuse for making mentally lousy decisions, we might have been better equipped to handle the rigors of prep school.
Bradley is a nice guy and a good football coach. Anyone who has seen him and his Jaguars staff run a practice knows how much energy and excitement he brings to the normally mundane sessions. But he’s not looking anything close to a good head coach, and what looked to be a good hire at the time, trying to tap into the Pete Carroll School of Vim and Vigor for a franchise that so badly needed just that, has turned out to be a disaster. This talented roster has zero organization or control.
Khan has a decision to make on Bradley’s future, and it’s up for debate if he’ll make it Friday morning. The Jaguars face a murder’s row of good defenses in the next two months, and this chaotic and out-of-phase offense could be in even deeper trouble against units that are far more developed and dangerous than what the Titans trotted out Thursday night.
Would promoting assistant head coach Doug Marrone make any difference? Probably not — this season likely is shot, and Marrone might not even have a chance to earn the full-time job the way Titans head coach Mike Mularkey did down the stretch last season. But watching the much-maligned Mularkey coach the pants off Bradley on Thursday night made it clear that the Jaguars have to make a change, and likely soon.
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