Gus Bradley is entering his fourth season as the head man in Jacksonville, and it is a crucial season for him if he wants to stay at the helm. Significant progress must be shown by his team on the field this season.
Up to this point, limited talent on the roster has given Bradley some leniency, but those days are over. GM Dave Caldwell and staff have done a fantastic job bringing in talent through free agency and the draft. The Jaguars now have a roster filled with young, talented players. Any excuses to be made on Bradley’s behalf are quickly evaporating.
Jacksonville has been on many experts’ lists of teams on the rise, and expectations for the team are as high as they have been since 2008. This team is expected to no longer be a doormat for the other teams in the league.
So given the amount of talent finally assembled on the roster, and the high expectations, what should be considered a successful season for Gus Bradley and the Jaguars?
While the Jaguars are expected to be a competitive team, I certainly don’t expect team owner Shad Khan and the front office having a ‘playoffs or bust’ goal. It still seems a season too early for that.
Having said that though, the win total has to increase in 2016. The Jaguars have won 12 games in Bradley’s three seasons, five being the most in one season. That lack of success is enough to get any coach fired, but the rebuilding of the team has given Bradley some leeway.
A big key this season will be getting off to a fast start. Jacksonville has won one game in September under Gus Bradley. ONE. They have to get off to a better start, and build some momentum early. Another sluggish start and it will start to feel like “Here we go again” for the team and fans alike.
Another key is the division the Jaguars play in. The AFC South is extremely winnable, and there is no reason the Jaguars shouldn’t be in contention for a division title in December.
In the end, I think an expectation of 8-8 or even 9-7 is not unfair to put on this team at this point. Enough talent is in place now, and if you want to be seen as a team on the rise and ready to compete, you gotta be able to handle the pressure that comes with it.
Dave Caldwell has said from the beginning that they have keyed in on years four and five on the rebuild of the team. This season is year four, and a .500 or better record is reachable with this team, and would be a great indicator that Gus Bradley can be the man to get the job done in Jacksonville.
On the flip side of that, while Caldwell and team owner Shad Khan have verbally expressed their trust and belief in Gus Bradley, anything less than 7 wins should be viewed as a major disappointment, and should signal the end for Bradley as head coach in Jacksonville.
The pressure is on for Gus Bradley in 2016. It’s sink or swim time in Jacksonville.