Gus Bradley wouldn’t say *all* has gone *exactly* as planned.
But the Jaguars’ new head coach said Wednesday that’s only because a lot about the last two weeks wasn’t exactly plannable. Piecing together an NFL coaching staff doesn’t happen that way.
But Bradley did say this:
The staff-building process over the last 14 days has gone as well as he could have imagined, and with the process winding down, he likes what has been built.
Actually, he likes it a lot.
“We’ve got a good mix,” Bradley said Wednesday in his office at EverBank Field. “We’ve got a mix of old, young, enthusiastic guys, guys who were in the NFL who went to college . . .
“We’ve hit every facet to try and find great teachers.”
Bradley, hired two weeks ago as the Jaguars’ fourth permanent head coach, said he has spoken at length during that time to about seven-to-10 players. He said they have been receptive to his message and philosophy, the basis of which is improving every day and preparing each day with a high-energy, enthusiastic approach.
He said, too, while General Manager David Caldwell and the assistant coaches spent this week beginning the process of evaluating the roster, his week largely has been spent putting the finishing touches on hiring the coaching staff, a process that he said Wednesday is close to completion.
And he said while he doesn’t expect every coach to mimic exactly his high-energy, effusive approach, he does expect a certain style.
“I want to walk around a corner and hear a practice, not just see a practice,” Bradley said. “I want to hear coaching and guys running around with great enthusiasm and great energy. I think that’s how it should be.
“There are different personalities. I don’t think we have to have 18 yellers and screamers, but we have to have guys who are passionate about their job and have energy about their job. Their No. 1 focus is to help each of our players get better, especially the ones they coach.”
Bradley likened the process in a sense to college recruiting.
“What a learning experience,” Bradley said. “I’m calling and there are three teams after this guy and three teams after this guy. There are times the gentlemen ends up coming with you and it’s almost like a celebration.
“It’s been great. I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk to a lot of coaches, because it’s not just one or two phone calls when we hire somebody. It’s such an important decision. The coaches I talk to say, ‘Gus, it’s probably the most important decision you’ll make, hiring your staff.’ ’’
Within three days of his January 16 hiring, Bradley had two coordinators in place, hiring former University of Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch on offense and former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Bob Babich on defense. Bradley said Fisch and Babich were on a short list of names he had when he began the interview process in January.
“I had them on my list, but I didn’t know what would happen,” Bradley said. “Every week, as the search went on, there was a chance to lose them. Both Bob and Jedd had opportunity elsewhere, and it so happened I got this job and we were able to get them to come here. Who knows what would have happened if it had been a week later?”
Shortly thereafter, it was announced that two key assistants, wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan and linebackers coach Mark Duffner, had been retained.
The Jaguars announced during Senior Bowl week last week the hiring of special teams coordinator Mike Mallory, then the hiring of quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, offensive line coach George Yarno and defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker.
On Monday, the hiring of defensive line coach Todd Wash was announced, as well as that of offensive line assistant Luke Butkus and offensive quality control assistant Tony Sorrentino. It was also announced Monday that the strength and conditioning staff of Tom Myslinski, Josh Hingst and Cedric Scott had been retained, as well as defensive assistant Brandon Blaney.
That brings the staff to 14 assistants, with running backs and tight ends yet to be announced.
The staff indeed is a mix of experience. Sullivan, Duffner, Babich and Fisch have a combined 55 seasons of NFL experience with Mallory, Scelfo, Walker, Wash, Sorrentino, Blaney and Yarno having 25 NFL seasons between them.
“I’ve talked to a couple of coaches – Jon Gruden, look at his history,” Bradley said. “Who did he hire when he was in Philadelphia (as offensive coordinator)? Sean Payton from Eastern Illinois. He hired Bill Callahan out of Wisconsin. Those were the words of advice from him (Gruden). He said, ‘Gus, there are a lot of really, really good coaches out there in college. You’ve got to dig. You’ve got to do your research, but there are some really good ones.’
“In my mind I said, ‘I’ve got time. I don’t have to rush. Therefore, I can go into college, make a bunch of phone calls to people I’ve coached with and dig in there and find some great coaches.’ I had absolutely no issue because I was able to do the research.”
Bradley said his idea compiling a staff was that “compatibility” was at least as important as “coachability,” and toward that end, he likes the result.
“We know at times we’re going to go through tough times,” Bradley said. “Whether it’s in a game or a two-game run, so you want to have guys who are loyal, who will stick with you and who are strong in that manner.”
“You pray every morning before you come in and start on the phone,” he said. “You ask for wisdom and hope things fall in line for you, and they really have. We’ve already heard it in our halls. Players have come in and been really impressed by the energy and the coaching level.
“We get these last couple and we should be off and running.”