When he was first introduced as the Jaguars new Head Coach, Gus Bradley had the normal enthusiasm you’d expect from a guy who had just ascended to the top of his profession. “I want our players to be competitive and to love football,” is how Bradley described what the Jaguars would look like as he took the reigns.
As things progressed towards the draft, Bradley stuck to his message, saying it was important to get good guys who could play but also guys who fit the mold of the “culture” he would try to build in the Jaguars locker room. “Dave and I are on the same page about that,” Bradley said referring to his boss, General Manager Dave Caldwell.
“Top down management doesn’t work in the NFL,” Gus told me the other day.
“Players are too plugged in, too smart. You have to run a team from the middle out. They have to take ownership and then you really have something.”
It’s the same message that Bradley has been preaching since day one, and what he’s proven over the less than a year he’s been here is that that message is authentic.
In fact, that’s how I’d describe Bradley himself. He’s not full of baloney or full of himself. He believes the things he says. Even in his times of doubt, Bradley listened to his own message.
“You have to have conviction,” the Jaguars head coach says. “I have such strong conviction and you have to stick to it. You have to lean on that when things aren’t going right. I’ve told our players and I’m proud of them for it. Stick to it and the success will come in bunches.”
The players are believers.
“We’re the Jaguars,” Alan Ball said after the game Thursday night. “We do things our way.”
“That’s for sure,” echoed Brad Meester who has played for every Jaguars Head Coach. “It’s a different culture, definitely. It’s a very positive approach, even when we were 0-8, it never waivered.”
It’s one thing to believe that what you’re preaching is the way. It’s another to have the players buy in and see it start to work.
That’s where Gus Bradley finds himself now.