The fresh faces have preached “toughness” from the start, with Coughlin saying in February: “This league can benefit from more of (a tough) attitude. This team can. You’ve got to play through some things.”
Understandably, Coughlin wasn’t thrilled with what he inherited. Winning rarely happened under former coach Gus Bradley, as Jacksonville sunk to an inglorious 14-48 mark over the past four seasons.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday former Eagles and 49ers head coach Chip Kelly is among the candidates being considered. The news was first reported by 1010XL in Jacksonville. Rapoport noted that Nathaniel Hackett, who ended the 2016 season as the team’s offensive coordinator, is also in the running.
From the outside looking in, the news feels like another move made by executive vice president Tom Coughlin, though the ties between Coughlin, Doug Marrone and Kelly are much deeper.
With the Jay Cutler era all but over and backup Matt Barkley’s audition marred by too many picks, the Bears need to find a quarterback. They do have a good start on constructing a power running team, with back Jordan Howard clearing 1,300 yards as a rookie. Coach John Fox has a history of defensive success, though Chicago was hurt this season by a distinct lack of takeaways (finishing with 11, least in the NFL). There are some good, young pieces to work with, including linebackers Leonard Floyd and Nick Kwiatkoski on defense and center Cody Whitehair, receiver Cameron Meredith and Howard on offense. The Bears have the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The NFC North, meanwhile, is relatively open at the top, given that it does not currently house a clear-cut bully, the Packers’ recent hot streak aside.
The 5-11 Chargers were better than their record. A whopping 20 players landed on injured reserve by season’s end, including key pieces like Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead and Jason Verrett. Joey Bosa proved he could be a factor, generating 10.5 sacks — but he was late to the party, missing four games after holding out. The distraction of a potential relocation has been — and might continue to be — an issue. Philip Rivers did not have his best year, but if he can cut down on the picks and the Chargers can stay healthy (or, at least, healthier), they should be able to make a more competitive push in 2017.
Thomas (back) caught 30 balls for 281 yards and four touchdowns in nine games with the Jags, his lowest totals since breaking out with the Broncos in 2013. Odrick played in just six games in his second season in Duval, as he struggled with separate hip and shoulder injuries.
In a lost campaign for the Jaguars and with changes on the horizon, sitting Thomas and Odrick down for the remaining four games feels oddly just. Their designations show how disappointing and underwhelming Jacksonville’s highly-touted signings and acquisitions have been during the two-year-long attempt to salvage the Gus Bradley era.
“I take full responsibility for it,” Bradley said. “I have no excuses. I have no misgivings. There is nothing I look back on and say, ‘Would have, could have.’ I understand the NFL is a business and it is results oriented and we didn’t get it done.”
Known as one of the NFL’s good guys, it would not be a surprise to see Bradley on the sidelines next season as a defensive coordinator or position coach. He said his main priority right now is ensuring that everyone in his household has a good Christmas.
While the firing and hiring of an NFL head coach has become a routine part of the sport’s ecosystem, it’s easy to lose sight of the people behind the actions on both sides of the table. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who let go of head coach Gus Bradley following Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, reminded me of that this week.
Owner Shad Khan and general manager Dave Caldwell decided to let Bradley go before Sunday’s game and were going to stick with their decision regardless of whether or not the team won. They opted to tell Bradley before he got on the team’s chartered plane back to Jacksonville. The move upset some Jaguars players, who heard the news on social media and did not know what to say to their now-former coach during the flight.