Khan mentioned that general manager Dave Caldwell “agreed and will now be charged with exploring all options to hire the best head coach possible” to lead the Jaguars. Khan also mentioned the team’s “extremely talented” roster, another sign of support for Caldwell. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Caldwell will name an interim head coach on Monday, and added Bradley was on the team flight back to Jacksonville.
This could be seen as an act of mercy for Bradley. In a statement after last season, Khan said that Bradley knew the Jaguars had to be “well above” where they finished a season ago when the team finished 5-11. The Jaguars spent big money in free agency and instead took a step back. It was only a matter of time before Bradley was fired, and Sunday’s collapse provided a good moment for a clean break.
In a role reversal early in the contest, it was the Jags getting to the quarterback more often than the Broncos. Jacksonville pressured Lynch plenty, which undoubtedly played a part in his skittishness for much of the game. Denver turned the tables later in the action, forcing Bortles to let it fly or run for his life. That added pressure was encouraging after the Broncos’ front seven didn’t look like itself early, and accounted for multiple Jaguars drives that stalled before they could become game-tying possessions.
A game that was low-scoring, largely unentertaining and filled with punts (19 combined) had its star, which was again Denver’s secondary. The defensive backs combined for two interceptions, locked down against Allen Robinson (even catching a Robinson juggle for an interception) and were mere inches from at least two more takeaways. Bortles’ stat line — 19 of 42, 181 yards, 2 interceptions — stunningly could have been much worse. It very well could be time to explore a future without Bortles for Jacksonville, while Denver rolls onward and keeps pace in the AFC West after Kansas City eked out a win over Atlanta.
Getting Allen Robinson involved early was key for Bortles. In his previous five games, Robinson compiled 105 total yards. Saturday, A-Rob went for 147 yards on nine receptions (12 targets). Robinson corralled receptions of 37, 28, 21, 18 and 16 yards. When Robinson is making plays for Bortles, the Jags can be a potent offense. Games like Saturday leave you shaking your head, wondering how the duo could post so many woeful afternoons this season.
There are plenty of intriguing names out there as we listed in our latest head coaching candidates list. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport also brought to our attention that Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan could be a hot name in the coming weeks during GameDay Morning.
But of those available candidates, is there a job they’d covet more? Here’s a look at both openings as they stand now and some thoughts on which may be a more desirable vacancy for a potential head coach. To be clear, this piece does not reflect the opinion of any current or prospective head coach. These views are mine only.
Rapoport mentioned on Saturday that the two sides would meet sometime this week. He also mentioned interim head coach Doug Marrone, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and cheap jerseys and Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph as potential candidates Jacksonville might look at.
As long-time Coughlin lieutenant Kevin Gilbride told me last week, the Jaguars job makes some sense logistically for Coughlin. The two-time Super Bowl winner has a home in the area and some of his family is still down there. Coughlin is a family man first and having them close would be a major draw.
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.