JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Hall of Fame coach once famously said, “Discipline isn’t wearing coats and ties on the airplane. It’s not jumping offside on third down.”
Discipline is lacking on the Jaguars in 2016. They’re the most penalized team in the league and young players like Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler are committing discipline errors inside and outside the rules of the game.
"We cannot and will not tolerate discipline penalties. It's selfish," Gus Bradley said in a conference call this afternoon.
Bradley was quick to point out that Dante Fowler came out of the game for the rest of the half when he received his unsportsmanlike penalty. Ramsey missed “A play and a half.”
But the Jaguars head coach, with Owner Shad Khan saying no change in his job is imminent, thinks this group of Jaguars can still make it happen. Bradley’s philosophy of empowering the players and getting them to motivate themselves to play freely is still what he’s preaching to the team.
"There’s never an excuse to not playing with great effort," Bradley said today on a conference call. "We have a standard that we place. If you’re not meeting that standard, get your butt going. I think the way you lay it out to get that anxiety out is that when you believe in people, you have to be honest with them. I think when they know, clearly understand the expectations and what’s ahead of them, you relieve some of that.”
For this group of Jaguars, that approach hasn’t worked, producing a 2-5 record through undisciplined play. Half of the locker room hasn’t bought into Gus’ philosophy, doing their own thing instead of doing there job.
I asked Bradley if he could account on why the players haven’t been able to discipline themselves to do the simple things that win games.
“I think every player has to direct their focus at that play and know their responsibility on that play. It takes a certain discipline to do that. Even a play that is run away from you, you have to be really good on the backside to make sure if that play bounces out you are there. We just weren’t as focused as we needed to be on a couple of those plays.”
To get that focus, players have to want to be a part of the team instead of making every play. They need that internal desire but they need help from the coaching staff in the form of discipline. Sometimes that means fear of repercussion for not doing your job.
“When you have conversations with them I think it is pretty clear – sometimes you have to help them individually on a one-on-one basis and then it’s important to have those conversations when you know your players,” Bradley said.
So Bradley will continue as the Jaguars head coach and he’ll continue to counsel the players instead of instilling the discipline clearly this team needs. Maybe they’re waiting for something to click. Maybe it will. Problem is, they don’t have time to wait.