Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Jags' win proved Bradley's ideas working
By Josh Weinfuss
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sometimes all it takes to get a team to buy in is something small.
A speech may work or a big play, maybe a big hit.
Other times it takes something bigger. Like a win.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had yet to find one of those during the first eight weeks of the season. They got close in some games but blown out in others. A new coach had come in with a new scheme and a new roster, but none of it was working well enough to erase the zero from Jacksonville's win column.
Finally, on Sunday, everything clicked in a 29-27 win over the Tennessee Titans and that one victory turned the Jaguars into believers of first-year coach Gus Bradley.
"I think one thing about that win is it kind of validated everything that our staff and Gus have been trying to talk with us about," Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew told reporters. "You know how someone tells you to write a story a certain way and you get a bunch of bad criticism about it? Then you write this story one way and you get all sorts of awards for it? You're like ‘OK, well this does work.'
"I think that's what the win did for us. No one really gave up for anything like that but we just kept fighting and doing everything the coaches told us about getting better, keep competing and those things."
Bradley, who had been the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator from 2009-12, stayed true to the pace he set during the offseason and training camp. He didn't make any drastic changes. He made sure the Jaguars stayed focused on their principles and beliefs.
It all sounds like coach speak, but not to players.
"What I was really proud about with our team is we just stayed the course," Bradley said. "We did maybe attack some areas that we weren't really efficient in. We just stayed strong through. It was a great illustration to our team to have conviction and if you stay true to it, good things can happen."
Despite each week passing by without a win, Bradley didn't change. He still played an eclectic mix of music during practice, still showed basketball highlights at the beginning of meetings and still challenged players to free-throw shooting contests.
Bradley challenged his players to always compete, Jones-Drew said, even if that means learning a new scheme. Like their opponents Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals, the Jaguars were faced with learning an entire new offense, complete with nuances, check downs and all.
And like the Cardinals, the Jags have struggled. During his first season at UCLA, Jones-Drew said he only had "a couple hundred yards." A year later, after learning the offense, he had more than 1,000.
Jacksonville faces the same challenges learning Bradley's offense.
"It takes time to understand that scheme and it's a timing deal," Jones-Drew said. "We're still learning that."
As the Jags come off the high of their first win, they're not going to stray off the course Bradley has stuck to since he was hired in January. Sunday proved to them it works.
"It kind of attests to him because of the way things have gone," Jones-Drew said. "Things haven't gone our way, we've done all these crazy things, but we never change who we are. We've always competed, we've always practiced the same way. He's never yelled, he just has us staying with the process, keep working, keep working and it ended up happening for us.
"Usually you see teams at 0-8 and they kind of give up for the most part but we were not that team. We're going to keep fighting and battling as a team to get back to what we need to get back to."