Sam: Bradley says fans 'deserve to see success'


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At the AFC coaches' breakfast during the NFL's annual meeting each year, getting a seat at the Jaguars' table isn't a problem.

No luck getting near the Patriots or Colts, Steelers or Broncos.

The breakfast is supposed to be a somewhat informal conversation with the head coaches in the league (the NFC has its breakfast Wednesday) and usually it pans out to be just that for the Jaguars' head coach.

But as the time wore on Tuesday, Gus Bradley's table was getting full of media from around the league and around the country wanting to hear what he had to say. Part of that is Gus' personality; the other part is the moves the team has made and the potential development of quarterback Blake Bortles.

"I learned that he was tougher than I originally thought," Bradley said when asked how Bortles progressed in his rookie year. "That is feeding his offseason. From reports from the other players, he's really doing a good job."

Bortles has been in California working with a quarterback coach, bringing in other Jaguars players and meeting and talking with other quarterbacks in the league.

Although the plan last year was to have him sit for most of the season and learn, being pressed into service in game three has accelerated his learning curve according to Bradley.

"Looking back at it, I'm glad he started and played as much as he did," Bradley said.
Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said he saw improvement in Bortles throughout the season. 

"He got better, no question," Pagano said. "He's going to be a consistently good player for them."

Bradley covered a wide variety of subjects but was particularly animated when talking about the culture he's working to develop in the organization. In fact, his staff is set up differently than other teams.

"We want to be the NFL coaching staff that has the college mindset of developing players," he said when asked about making players better. "In college you get a guy as a high school senior and develop him as a player. In the NFL it seems you get a guy and if he's not what you want, you just replace him. We want to develop those guys as part of our process."

When putting together a team, Gus stressed the difference between "need to win" and "want to win." 

"We know the rush to maturity can take five or six years, but we want it to happen in a couple of years," Bradly said. "It sounds like a broken record, but when players play together, get to see things over and over, they react better. They trust each other. We have to stay disciplined to try and not go for a quick fix."

While the Jaguars have had more than 400 roster moves since he and general manager Dave Caldwell took over, Bradley believes there's less turnover on his team and feels better about it. They're always trying to add talent through the draft and free agency, but he admits it's hard to find the right fit every time.

"We look for humility, football intelligence and a warrior spirit when it comes to free agents," Bradley said. "We have a guy like that in Poz."

But adding to that can be tricky.

"The crazy thing about free agency is that sometimes the first time I meet them is when we sign them," he said.

I asked Gus if Shad Khan's proclamation last month that "the fans deserve better" put any pressure on him.

"No, they do deserve better," he said. "The passion that our fans have is unique. They deserve to see success sooner rather than later."

Does that translate in to more wins in 2015?

"We're still learning, but that's the NFL," he said but admitted that with the free agent acquisitions and another draft class to add to the mix, the Jaguars will be a better team.

"We've upgraded the roster and continue to do so," Bradley said.