Jaguars owner Khan: Coach Bradley will return next season

Dec 29, 2015, 1:52 PM | Updated: 3:59 pm
Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is 12-35 in three seasons with Jacksonville. (AP)
(AP)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan knew this would be a lengthy rebuilding project.

He talked about the day he hired coach Gus Bradley and has mentioned it repeatedly since.

So it should be no surprise that he’s giving Bradley another year to get the job done.

Khan released a statement Tuesday confirming that Bradley will return for the final year of his contract. Khan said he spoke to Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell earlier in the day to make them aware of his intentions. Bradley is 12-35 in three seasons.

The Jaguars (5-10) finish the season Sunday at Houston (8-7).

“It’s evident to see how far we’ve come in many aspects of our game, and Gus deserves a lot of credit for that progress,” Khan said. “It’s also evident the considerable work that remains to be done to be where we expect to be at this time next season, which is well above where we stand today. And Gus understands that. …

“I expect his coaching staff and team to respond favorably to this news in preparation for Houston on Sunday and then begin thinking about what more they can provide next season. We have high ambitions.”

The news isn’t a big surprise, especially inside the facility.

Although the Jaguars have failed to take advantage of a topsy-turvy AFC South — Houston, Indianapolis and Tennessee have used a combined nine quarterbacks this season — no one seemed concerned about Bradley’s future. After all, Jacksonville enjoyed one of its most impressive offensive performances in franchise history.

Quarterback Blake Bortles shattered the franchise record for touchdown passes. He has 35. Fellow second-year pros Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns gave the team its first pair of 1,000-yard receivers since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell in 2001.

Throw in 27-year-old tight end Julius Thomas, rookie running back T.J. Yeldon and shifty receivers Marqise Lee and Rashad Greene, and the Jaguars have amassed one of the best collections of young offensive talent in the league.

The defense is another story.

And Caldwell and Bradley expect the offseason to be centered on rebuilding that side of the ball.

The Jaguars rank 25th in the league in total defense, with the most glaring weaknesses being an inconsistent pass rush and a struggle to get off the field on third down.

Caldwell spent his first three drafts rebuilding the offense, and the results show.

Now, it’s time to address the defense. And many believe Caldwell will use most, if not all, of his draft picks on that side of the ball. Throw in a few free agents and the return of injured first-round draft pick Dante Fowler Jr. and talented defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, and the Jags could look considerably different on the defensive side of the ball in 2016.

If the defense makes the kind of leap the offense did this season, the Jaguars should be in playoff contention next year. If not, Bradley’s job no doubt will be in jeopardy.

___

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