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The Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Gus Bradley after the Jaguars blew a lead to lose 21-20 to the Houston Texans in Week 15.
While the firing was not undeserved – Bradley sported a 14-48 record with the Jaguars – from the sound of it, the way he was fired could have been handled better.
According to ESPN’s Mike DiRocco, Bradley was fired immediately after the game but then had to take the team charter plane from Houston back to Jacksonville, resulting in an awkward dynamic between players and the coach.
“Yeah, that sucked,” defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks told ESPN. “If I had an opinion on if I thought that was the right move, I don’t think that was the right way to do it. He had to ride the plane home back that way, but that ain’t my call. They did it. They made the move.”
According to DiRocco, the team’s front office decided to fire Bradley before the loss to Houston but did not inform him or the team. At best, the decision would have made sense and been justified if the Jags lost. At worst, if Bradley and the Jags had defeated the Texans, which they very nearly did, would the front office have fired him anyway, even after the team’s third win of the season?
Additionally, the players didn’t receive a formal announcement that Bradley had been fired, leaving them to find out via social media.
“Sitting on the bus waiting to go to the airport, and the things start popping up on social media. That’s how we found out, so it was very surprising,” linebacker Paul Posluszny told ESPN.
According to DiRocco, Bradley walked around the team plane talking to players. While some were happy to talk to their coach and wish him well, DiRocco reports that others didn’t know what to say to him. Marks said that Bradley was “very cordial” in speaking to players on the plane.
Such is the NFL schedule that players also have no time to mourn Bradley’s termination.
“It sucks from being a player and understanding how this business works, but the train stops for no one. We can’t sit here and pout and be upset, because we have a game Saturday,” defensive end Malik Jackson said. “Gus got fired. We’ve got to keep rolling and go out here and win some games, or [Jags owner Shad] Khan’s going to fire one of us, too.”
While the Jaguars may have been overdue for a change in coaches – and Bradley clearly wasn’t getting the job done – the handling of the situation sounds about as successful as the Jaguars’ on-field execution has been this year. The team is 2-12.