It took more than three seasons of futility, but Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley may finally be wearing out his welcome.
In Bradley’s 50th game as the team’s head coach, the Jaguars suffered a 38-14 demolition at the hands of the San Diego Chargers in Week 2. With the loss, Bradley’s record with the Jaguars dropped to 12-38, and now he finally appears to be on the hot seat.
Only Rex Ryan of the 0-2 Buffalo Bills has better odds of getting fired during the 2016 season.
Of the 170 head coaches in NFL history with at least 50 games under their belt, Bert Bell is the only one who compiled a worse record than Bradley, going 10-44-2 in five seasons as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1936-1940 and 0-2 with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1941. Why didn’t the Eagles fire Bell? Because he was also the team’s owner.
Unlike the Eagles with Bell, the Jaguars have complete freedom to fire Bradley but have been exceedingly patient with the former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator. When hired, there was an understanding that it would take time for the team to win during a full-scale rebuild. Even after a 7-25 start through two seasons, there was a tremendous amount of optimism surrounding Bradley and the future of the Jaguars.
"I think [general manager] Dave Caldwell and [team owner] Shad Khan are a lot more lenient of a staff than he'd ever get in the NFL, so they're going to give him more time, at least I hope so," former Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee told SB Nation before the 2015 season. "I hope it doesn't take a lot of time for us to start winning more games because I'd like to start seeing us win now, and so would everybody else. But Gus has patience and so does Dave and so does Mr. Khan."
But those wins never came. At all.
What’s worse is that he is completely without a signature win. None of Bradley’s 12 NFL wins came against a team that finished with a winning record.
While there’s an argument to be made that the 2013 Jaguars even overachieved by finishing 4-12, what hurts now is the burden of expectation. The 2016 Jaguars entered with high hopes after a breakout season for several young offensive players and an offseason spending spree.
Jacksonville spent big money to acquire Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, and Prince Amukamara on defense and added Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack in the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.
A close loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 was disappointing but at least offered hope that the Jaguars were able to be competitive with a top franchise. That hope is now circling the drain after a rout in San Diego.
As long as Bradley is the head coach, there’s still a chance his job will be saved if the team finally clicks and lives up to its potential. But it finally looks like the clock is running out. Yet, even with all indications that his back should be up against the wall, Bradley doesn’t seem to sense the urgency.
“We just didn’t play well. I don’t know if you’re defined by one game,” Bradley said after his 50th game. “The big thing is let’s see how we respond to this. I have a lot of faith in the character of the coaches and this team.”
Up next, Jacksonville has a home game against the Baltimore Ravens followed by a divisional matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in London.
A good time to fire coaches is the bye week, as it gives teams extra time to adjust to the changes. Unfortunately for Bradley, the Jaguars have a Week 5 bye, meaning the team’s performance in the next two weeks could determine the security of his job with the team. Two more losses and it’s hard to imagine Bradley seeing a 53rd game.