Gus Bradley insists he doesn’t have any extra motivation about his first visit to Everbank Field Sunday since he was fired as Jacksonville Jaguars coach with two games left last year.
“No,’’ said Bradley, now the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers, in an interview with Chargers.com. “I’m more focused on us and what we have to do.’’
That is typical of Bradley, who always takes the high road and says he’s happy for the Jaguars’ success this year.
“To me, you’re happy for them,’’ he said. “You can’t not care for players that you were with for so many years. To see them do well and play at a high level and some of them get rewarded because of it. I think that’s cool. I’m all for that. … I think in the NFL there’s a lot of really good people. (That’s) what I’ve learned from the years I’ve been in it. Just really good people, and people that all want the same thing – at least where I’ve been – and Jacksonville was just another place that has a lot of really good people.’’
According to Chargers.com, “Those within the Jaguars organization, as well as those outside, give Bradley a ton of credit for building a strong foundation they believe will last for years to come.’’
In reality, many Jaguars fans are saying the Jaguars are better because Bradley is gone. They blame Bradley for four losing seasons and feel they’re better with Doug Marrone as coach.
They ignore the fact that Bradley took over a team in 2013 with one of the worst rosters in the league and didn’t get much help until his third season.
General manager Dave Caldwell struck out in his first draft and didn’t spend big money on free agents the first two seasons. But many Jaguars fans point to Bradley’s 14-48 record and don’t believe the team would be winning if he were still coaching.
Bradley’s biggest mistake was taking the job in the first place — because coaches don’t survive five-year rebuilding programs.
Even Caldwell lost his control of the organization this year when Tom Coughlin was brought in to run the show by owner Shad Khan.
According to Chargers.com, “It’s only natural to wonder what goes through his (Bradley’s) mind, seeing a team he helped build have success after four straight losing seasons at the helm.’’
Bradley is so positive that he puts all his emphasis on his defense and not on settling scores with the Jaguars.
After a slow start while putting in a new system and adjusting to the move from San Diego while playing in a soccer stadium, the Los Angeles defense is starting to come together. The Chargers blanked Denver and held the Patriots and Tom Brady to one touchdown in a 21-13 loss.
Overall, the Chargers are fourth in sacks (26) seventh in points allowed (19.0) and eighth against the pass (201.9 yards). And they have two players in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa who each have 8.5 sacks.
“The team here, I’m really amazed just at how they go about it,’’ Bradley said. “And I’m happy to see in a lot of areas that we’re improving. Obviously, we’ve got some work to do.’’
Bradley finds out Sunday if his defense is ready to stop the Jaguars offense.
He will never admit what that would mean to him.