By Brent Stecker
First-time NFL head coaches don’t typically live in comfort. Patience is rarely afforded to them during trying times for franchises, and that’s why a lot of eyes are affixed to new Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who took the job after four highly successful years as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator.
Bradley, a well-liked figure during his time in Seattle, will return to town Sunday when his 0-2 Jaguars enter as nearly three-touchdown underdogs against the 2-0 Seahawks. But with a lackluster roster to build on, will he last in Jacksonville long enough to coach against his former team a second time?
Gus Bradley is 0-2 to start his tenure as the Jaguars head coach, and life won’t get any easier Sunday when they face his former team, the 2-0 Seahawks. (AP)
Ryan O’Halloran, a Jaguars beat writer for the Florida Times-Union, told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Wyman, Mike and Moore” that he expects Bradley, 47, to get a fair shake from relatively new Jaguars owner Shahid “Shad” Khan.
“When (Bradley) took this job, he knew what was ahead of him,” O’Halloran said. “Dave Caldwell, the GM, was hired a week before Gus came aboard, and the owner was pretty adamant. ‘Hey, the previous regime said to sign these couple players’ last year, ‘and we can contend for a playoff spot.’ Didn’t happen. So Shad Khan said, ‘Hey, let’s tear it down, build it from scratch the right way through the draft, and when they get better you can venture into free agency, but concentrate on developing (our) own players.’
“This is going to be a process minimum three years. Nothing’s ever set in the NFL, but they’re gonna get some time because the owner’s not going to panic.”
According to Hays Carlyon, O’Halloran’s Florida Times-Union colleague, Bradley has a good start in his attempt to turn around a team that won just two games in 2012 and is six years removed from its last winning season.
“The biggest thing to his credit is the culture he is trying to create here,” Carlyon said on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob on Groz” Friday. “Obviously it’s going to be quite a challenge. The Jaguars’ roster is abysmal compared to a lot of the other teams in the league, certainly compared to Seattle, so it’s gonna take I would think at least two years with Bradley working with general manager Greg Caldwell to get it going in Jacksonville.”
Though Khan fired previous head coach Mike Mularkey after just one season, it’s unlikely the Pakistani-born billionaire will become a notoriously hands-on owner like Jerry Jones or the late Al Davis.
“(Khan) knows Jerry Jones &ndash he doesn’t want to take that route,” O’Hallaron said. “He confides in guys like Bob Kraft, who say, ‘Hey, the biggest part of an NFL ownership is knowing what you don’t know.’ Shad has said to me several times, ‘I know a lot about auto parts and building auto-parts factories. I don’t know anything about building football teams. That’s why I’m gonna hire people and support them 100 percent.’
“Everybody will say, ‘Hey, he fired a coach and a GM in his first year of ownership.’ Those guys had to go. To move forward he had to clean house. He’s got his people in place and now’s he’s gonna be patient.”