4. Philosophical approach. We’ll spend most of this post-Senior Bowl, pre-Super Bowl Fabulous Four on the topic of Gus Bradley, now in his 16th day as the Jaguars’ permanent head coach and in the early stages of establishing his philosophy for the organization. And make no mistake: with Bradley, understanding his philosophy is key to understanding how he will function as a head coach. Bradley said this week he first consciously developed a personal philosophy after hearing then-Alabama football coach Gene Stallings speak at a coaching convention in 1992, the year Stallings coached the Crimson Tide to a national championship. Bradley said he sat in the front row, ready to take notes on defense or pass coverage and instead Stallings urged each coach to identify a philosophy, something they could remember in difficult times. Bradley eventually found his: “To possess a genuine appreciation for the contribution and commitment everyone makes, for together we shall get it done.” Bradley said it became more than words on paper. “I’ve always tried to live by that,” he said. Bradley told the story of how in 2009, after he along with the staff of Jim Mora was dismissed by the Seahawks following one season as an assistant, he was interviewed by Pete Carroll, then taking over the Seahawks as head coach. Carroll’s first question? “Gus, can you give me your personal philosophy in 20 words or less?” Bradley this week laughed telling the story. I said, ‘Heck yeah, I’ve been waiting since 1992.’ That started off the interview.” Carroll retained Bradley on the Seahawks’ staff.
3. Heavy influence. Speaking on Jaguars This Week this week, Bradley talked extensively of the bond between him and Carroll. If it started with the first interview and a connection over philosophical approach, Bradley said it quickly grew deeper. Carroll long had been a successful assistant coach and was considered one of the NFL’s top defensive coordinators, but he had mixed success as a head coach, finishing 6-10 in 1994 as the head coach of the New York Jets and 27-21 in three seasons as the head coach of the New England Patriots from 1997-1999. Bradley said Carroll believed he grew when he had a year off in 2000, after he left the Patriots and before he became the head coach at the University of Southern California. Carroll that year challenged himself to say, “Who am I?” and “What do I want to become.” Carroll since that time had success both at Southern California and with Seattle and Bradley said Carroll constantly challenged him to focus on improving as a coach, and focusing on his beliefs. “He put that on me when I was in Seattle, too,” Bradley said. “He said, ‘I want you to explore this, Gus.’ We really worked well together and came up with some good things.” Bradley said he and Carroll meshed immediately, and said he has spoken to Carroll since taking the Jaguars’ position. He also said while Carroll is perceived as a players’ coach and known for encouraging a positive environment there’s more to the formula and that the basis of his coaching philosophy is the same as that which Bradley wants to create in Jacksonville – an environment that centers on constant competition. “Pete is high energy, really positive, but that shouldn’t be confused with not making the tough decisions,” Bradley said. “It’s all about competition and taking the team to the next level. The players there weren’t always comfortable.”
2. Good signs. We’ll stay on this Bradley theme for the third entry of Fab Four this week, which makes sense because the new head coach will very much set the tone for the entire building process. That’s true of any head coach, but it’s particularly true of Bradley. Speaking to Bradley this week it’s clear he’s a firm believer that attitude and approach are critical to success, and that each will be a major emphasis during his tenure. In Seattle, Carroll put a major emphasis on coaches having a positive, upbeat style. Though Bradley said he didn’t make that a prerequisite when seeking assistants, he did talk extensively of believing that a practice should sound a certain way and he believed that as a rule, you should be able to hear teaching and coaching going on at a practice. Bradley said as of Wednesday, he had spoken to about 7-to-10 Jaguars players, and he said he was optimistic that the locker room will be receptive to his message. On Wednesday evening, he spoke of getting a general feeling from players that they were already beginning to believe something good was about to happen and wanting to be a part of it. Bradley said he doesn’t know much about the previous culture, and that actually, he doesn’t need to know much about the Jaguars’ immediate past. “I’m sure there were really good coaches and really good players,” he said. “But now it’s 2013. I was asked to come in and implement the philosophy and culture along with Dave. That’s what we’re going to do. There may be similarities. I’m not sure. It’s really not an issue with me right now. I’m going to say, ‘Hey, this is the vision we have. This is the direction.’ It’s going to be really clear. Hang on.”