As the final seconds ticked off at Everbank Stadium Saturday and the Jaguars celebrated snapping their nine game losing streak by dominating the Titans 38-17, one big question came out of it.
With the team obviously in need of a change at head coach mid-sesaon and getting rid of Gus Bradley inevitable, why did owner Shad Khan wait to try it?
To be clear, this isn’t 20/20 hindsight by us at F.F.I.
Alas, after that Thursday night disaster in Nashville, Bradley instead was allowed to “scapegoat” offensive coordinator Greg Olson in an attempt to jump start their play. It obviously didn’t work short term or otherwise and Blake Bortles and Co. went no where and losses continued to mount up.
To also be clear, mid season coaching changes aren’t exact sciences. Sometimes the team responds and sometimes the floundering continues. Look at last year as examples of both.
The Dolphins fired Joe Philbin after four games, when it was obvious that the losing had overtaken their building and players weren’t responding to him anymore (if they ever were). Interim Head Coach Dan Campbell, who had not been a head coach before, did help spark them with his personality and Miami not only won their initial game in Tennessee (irony for our Jags premise) but went on to go 5-7 total. Obviously, they didn’t make the playoffs, etc., but a different voice/leadership helped shake it up for the positive.
Those same Titans got off to an amazing start last year with rookie Marcus Mariota and bombed the Bucs week one in Tampa, but nose dived to six losses in a row and they decided to fire coach Ken Whisenhunt at that point. Mike Mularkey who was on staff was elevated because he had been an NFL head coach twice before, but the Titans only won twice more and finished 3-13.
Now, as a footnote, the Titans did retain Mularkey, have had a great bounce back season and were 8-6 headed into this past weekend’s loss to, the Jaguars.
Back to “the boys of North Florida,” as 2-5 became 2-6, 2-7, etc., it was obvious what had to be done with Bradley and yet Khan chose to stand by and do nothing to try to spark this season.
Then Saturday after making the move, Jacksonville motored down the field with the opening kick on a sharp drive of 75 yards and led 7-0, and would go on to dominate much of the first half leading 19-7.
As you probably know by now, the Titans lost Mariota on hit that broke his leg in the third quarter, and it all but ended their hope of winning the game and staying alive for the playoffs. Bottom line is: the Jags continued to play hard and when Jalen Ramsey sealed the win with his 30 yard pick six in the fourth quarter, a 38-17 victory was complete.
Was it all because of the firing of Bradley? Of course, not.
But, was it obvious that the Jags were playing harder, and smarter for four quarters and won easily over a good team? Yes.
You could argue either way that they would or wouldn’t have won much more had Khan made this move in early November, etc. We wrote about it because the Jags have too much talent to look as disorganized and uninspired as they were down the stretch.
Saturday’s one game sample confirmed that.
Unfortunately, you cannot fully evaluate if Marrone is a solution for next year, because you cannot go off two games for that.
That goes back to what Shad Khan didn’t do with his head coaching situation back in November.
And as the owner, he’s on the hook for that.