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Gus Bradley fired as Jaguars’ coach, ending one of the all-time worst NFL tenures

Bradley built the Jaguars around a philosophy of “getting better,” but it wasn’t reflected in the win column.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ patience with Gus Bradley finally ran out and the team fired the fourth-year head coach after a 2-12 start to the 2016 season, the team announced Sunday. Bradley’s final career record with the team is 14-48.

The announcement of the move came just a couple hours after Jacksonville lost a ninth consecutive game, blowing a 20-11 lead against the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter.

On Monday, former Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone was named the interim replacement for Bradley for the final two weeks of the year. Marrone was hired by the Jaguars in 2015 as an assistant head coach and offensive line coach.

“I thanked Gus Bradley today for his commitment to the Jacksonville Jaguars over the past four seasons,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement. “As anyone close to our team knows, Gus gave his staff and players literally everything he had. Our players competed for Gus and I know they have great respect for him, as do I.

“Gus also represented the Jaguars, the Jacksonville community and the NFL in nothing less than a first-class manner as our head coach. That counts for a lot. It is unfortunately evident that we must make a change. I thought it would be best to do it immediately after today’s result so Gus can step away, relax and regroup with his family during the Christmas and holiday season.”

Bradley is one of 171 head coaches in NFL history with at least 50 games under his belt, but only one finished with a lower winning percentage. That was Bert Bell, a founder and owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, who coached the team to a 10-44-2 record in five seasons (1936-40).

Jacksonville allowed one of the worst coaching tenures in history because the team realized a full-scale rebuild was necessary and that losses were inevitable. However, Bradley’s philosophy was built around “getting better” and that wasn’t reflected by the team’s record.

"He's concerned about getting the best possible ability from the individual player," former Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee told SB Nation in 2015. "In turn, that individual player makes the team better. He's always preaching about getting better. That's his whole thing. ‘Get better, get better,' and if you give your personal best then the team does get better and that will translate into wins."

While the talent on the team improved with breakout stars like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, the wins never came.

The Jaguars were 4-12 in his first season as coach in 2013, but regressed to 3-13 in 2014 and didn’t look much better in 2015, finishing with a 5-11 record. But what finally cost Bradley his job was the optimism and increased expectations for the team in 2016.

After spending big to acquire Julius Thomas in 2015, and a big group of free agents in 2016, including Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, and Chris Ivory, there were finally high hopes that winning was on the way in Jacksonville. But the victories didn’t come and now Bradley is out.

Perhaps the most damning development of Bradley’s 2016 is the collapse of Blake Bortles. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bortles looked the part of a franchise quarterback in his second season, but his throwing mechanics have completely fallen apart this year and he has been legitimately one of the worst QBs in football. The Jaguars’ next head coach has to spend the offseason thinking long and hard about whether Bortles is really the answer going forward.

That question will likely be answered in conjunction with general manager Dave Caldwell, who was hired just before Bradley, but has been put in charge of choosing an interim coach for the final two weeks of the season. If Caldwell is fired, it will likely be the end of the road for Bortles as well.