Jaguars’ organization fights fire with fire

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Jaguars’ organization fights fire with fire

New fiery GM signs new fiery head coach: Gus Bradley
“He’s got a brilliant football mind,” Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll said this week of new Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. “He’s got a way of reaching people and touching people and getting the best out of them, coaches and players alike. He’s got everything that you’re looking for.”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars have an energetic head coach to go along with their brash general manager.

The Jaguars hired Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as the franchise’s fifth head coach Thursday, the latest move in the team’s rebuilding project.

The 46-year-old Bradley joins general manager Dave Caldwell, who led the coaching search after being hired last week.

“It was just a matter of time before Gus Bradley became a head coach in the NFL, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are extremely fortunate that Gus will be on our sidelines for many years to come,” Caldwell said in a statement. “Gus more than met every criteria we insisted on from our new head coach, and his intangibles and leadership abilities are exceptional. Gus is who the Jaguars need now and in the future.”

Bradley spent the last four seasons in Seattle, earning a reputation as a fiery assistant who demanded – and often got – the most from his players. His defense improved each of the last three years and finished in the top 10 in points and yards the last two. This season, the Seahawks ranked first in points allowed (15.3), fourth in yards (306.2) and tied for fourth in takeaways (31).

The Jaguars were 30th in the league in total defense in 2012.

“I had faith that Dave would make an outstanding hire, and my faith has been rewarded,” Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan said. “Gus Bradley is perfect for our franchise. The energy he will immediately bring is incredible, and I am confident the victories will follow.”

Bradley will be formally introduced at a news conference this morning.

“Shad Khan and Dave Caldwell expect to win, and that’s what I wanted to hear,” Bradley said. “That’s why I am coming to Jacksonville – to win a Super Bowl.”

His liveliness seems to be a good fit with Caldwell, who oozed confidence during his introduction last week. Caldwell pointed to his “track record of success,” adding that he has “never been a part of a losing team.” He also openly shot down any chance of bringing in New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow, a bold move in Tebow’s hometown.

Caldwell came across as the polar opposite of former general manager Gene Smith, who showed little emotion in his four years at the helm.

Bradley probably will look equally outgoing compared to former coach Mike Mularkey, who was known for taking a calm and consistent approach to everything – including losing.

Bradley began his NFL coaching career with Tampa Bay as a defensive quality control coach in 2006. He was the Buccaneers’ linebackers coach the next two seasons before going to Seattle. Bradley coached in college from 1990 to 2005, including two stints at his alma mater, North Dakota State, and four years at Fort Lewis College (1992-95).

But his rise through the NFL ranks had him on several teams’ radar. He also interviewed for the head job in Philadelphia this week.

“He’s got a brilliant football mind,” Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll said this week. “He’s got a way of reaching people and touching people and getting the best out of them, coaches and players alike. He’s got everything that you’re looking for.”

The Jaguars interviewed defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden before striking a deal with Bradley.

Bradley replaces Mularkey, who went 2-14 in his only season in Jacksonville. Mularkey failed to make the team any better in his first season.

Khan fired Smith, the architect of the roster since 2009, and charged Caldwell with turning around one of the league’s worst franchises. Caldwell’s first move was ousting Mularkey, saying the team “needed a fresh start.”

Many believed Caldwell would target close friend and college roommate Greg Roman, San Francisco’s offensive coordinator.

Instead, Caldwell and Bradley will team up in hope of getting the Jaguars back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Jacksonville has missed the postseason 11 times in the last 13 years.

No surprise then that Bradley inherits a team that lacks playmakers on both sides of the ball.

The Jaguars have running back Maurice Jones-Drew under contract for another year and have young and talented receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III. But the offensive line was a mess in 2012, adding to the team’s quarterback woes.

Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne proved to be the answer under center. Caldwell said he had “others in mind” to compete for the starting job.

Defensively, the biggest issue is generating a more consistent pass rush.

The Jaguars had a league-low 20 sacks this season. Philadelphia Eagles cast-off Jason Babin helped down the stretch, but the Jaguars likely will use the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL draft to find a pass rusher.

Bradley’s defense had several young stars.

Defensive end Bruce Irvin, the 15th overall pick last April, led all rookies with eight sacks. Linebacker Bobby Wagner, a second-round draft pick, ranked second among rookies in tackles with 140 and fourth with three interceptions. Safety Earl Thomas was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, second-year cornerback Richard Sherman led the team with eight interceptions, and defensive end Chris Clemons had a career-high 11½ sacks.

Bradley: From FLC to NFL head coach

Fort Lewis College football’s imprint on the professional level just took a big step up in prominence Thursday.

One of its own now is an NFL head coach.

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Casey “Gus” Bradley was named the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But back in the 1990s, Bradley spent his days in Durango, serving as a defensive coordinator at FLC. He was a member of the Skyhawks’ coaching staff from 1992 to 1995, working under Kevin Donnalley and Dave Preszler. He was named Preszler’s replacement as the program’s head coach in the offseason between the 1995 and 1996 seasons, serving in that capacity for four months before stepping down for family medical reasons. He then took a job at North Dakota State to be closer to his father, who was battling cancer at the time.

“Gus was a player’s coach extraordinaire,” former FLC quarterback and Fort Lewis Hall of Fame member Thad Trujillo said in a news release. “He was highly motivating, and all the players loved him.”

Preszler, now the athletic director at Bayfield High School, said he wasn’t surprised to hear the news of Bradley’s hire, adding that he’s proud of what his former assistant has achieved in such a short time.

“It was just a matter of time,” Preszler said. “That was going to be Gus.”

Bradley started his rise to football prominence after playing four years and winning a Division II national championship in 1988 as a free safety at North Dakota State.

After two stints at his alma mater and the stop at FLC, Bradley jumped to the NFL as a defensive quality control coach with Tampa Bay in 2006 before being promoted to linebackers coach the next year, serving in that capacity for two seasons. He joined Seattle as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2009.

“Excited, certainly for Casey and his family, excited for all the players who’ve been lucky enough to play for Casey,” Preszler said of the hire. “I was excited and certainly proud.”

Bradley becomes just the second former Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference head coach to assume that same job with an NFL team. The other was Dutch Clark, who coached the Portsmouth Spartans – now the Detroit Lions – in 1937 as a player-coach and the Cleveland Rams from 1939 to 1943. Clark coached Colorado Mines in 1933, and he is a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.



heraldsports@ durangoherald.com

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Jaguars’ organization fights fire with fire

“He’s got a brilliant football mind,” Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll said this week of new Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. “He’s got a way of reaching people and touching people and getting the best out of them, coaches and players alike. He’s got everything that you’re looking for.”
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