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Sam's commentary: Jaguars at a crossroads

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Even in the aftermath, there wasn’t anything to like in the Jaguars 38-14 loss to the Chargers on Sunday.  Just about every phase of the game broke down leaving many more questions than answers from the coaches and the players.  Head Coach Gus Bradley’s assessment was about the same.

“We talk about the truth. There was not much good to take from the game,” Gus said during a conference call Monday after reviewing the Jaguars performance.  “We’re well aware that as a team we did not play very well. It wasn’t to our standard. You try to find some things that are positive, and I’m sure there are. As a whole, when you’re down 35-0 going into the fourth quarter, there’s not a lot of good that took place.”

That is the truth, but in the fourth year of the rebuilding of the roster and the franchise, the football team was supposed to be past that kind of failure across the board.  Bradley says everybody shoulders the responsibility, but getting it right is the key.

“We have to get right,” Bradley explained. “They all understand that we cannot have that kind of performance. We all believe that we are a good team, but we just didn’t play like we we’re a good team.“

“I think you really rely on the character of the team,” he continued.  “The character and the pride of this team is great. There wasn’t a lot of good that took place yesterday. I think we’ve owned up to that. That’s what is frustrating. That’s more of a feeling now talking to our players is that we know we have the capability of playing at a much higher level and we didn’t.”

Those are all the right things to say and if they’re going to get some wins this year Bradley and the team will have to put that into action.  When asked if the next two weeks were a crossroads for the team, Bradley said you have to reflect on what’s happened already this season and move forward.  When asked if it was a crossroads for him as the head coach Bradley quickly denied that.

“No,” he said immediately. “All the intention is we have to get right. You are not defined by one game. If this brings us to the right places then that’s my concern right now. To make sure this game, this experience that we had, elevates our play and takes us to the right place.”

Maybe that’s the only thing he could say but Bradley is a smart guy and certainly knows that Shad Khan’s and the fans’ patience is wearing thin.  After all the money spent in free agency, the good fortune in the draft and the preseason success, expectations were higher than ever going into this season.  The time for learning and building is over.  “It’s built,” is how Bradley put it.  So now is the time for winning games.

As good a guy as he is, and as good a football coach he is, Bradley’s philosophy as a head coach, empowering the players to be accountable to each other, is still a big experiment.  You can hear it taking shape when you talk to the players but it’s a results business and sometime soon, if not now, winning will be the only result anybody is interested in. 

There is a difference between performance and results.  On opening day, the Jaguars performance was stellar but the result wasn’t what anybody, save for the Packers and their fans, was looking for.  In San Diego both the performance and the result were lacking, so much so that it calls everything into question.  Bradley admits as much.

“You have to dissect it, take a look at it, what led to this? Was it our preparation? Was it our mindset? Was it discipline? I cannot argue the fact, we talk about what getting better looks like and that’s not what get better looks like and it is really evident.”

You’ll never meet a more positive, focused guy than Gus Bradley. Likeable and driven to be as good as he can be.  But at some point winning games is the only measuring stick.

“We’ll be fine. We’ll get back on this,” Bradley said with his usual confidence. “Our players have been great in the meetings we’ve had. No one wants to get it more right than the players and the coaches.”