JACKSONVILLE – Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley loves the idea of communicating with fans.
Because of that, he really loved Tuesday night.
Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell, each of whom is entering his second season with the team, spoke to season-ticket holders at length Tuesday at the first of three Season Ticket Holder Fan Forums at EverBank Field.
“I think it’s really good, just to have a chance to interact with the fans,” Bradley said Wednesday. “Dave and I have always talked about being transparent. It gave us an opportunity to really live through our philosophy of being transparent.”
The series is exclusive to season-ticket holders with registration required for entry. The second fan forum will be held Wednesday evening with the final event Thursday, February 6. The February 6 event will be streamed live on jaguars.com.
Chad Johnson, the Jaguars’ Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales, said the events are about helping fans better understand the Jaguars’ football operations.
“We went out with surveys to hear about fans’ experience in the stadium with regard to the business and customer service,” Johnson said. “But that doesn’t address some of their other thoughts and concerns about the football team and where we’re going. This provides them that opportunity to get the second half of their feedback and for us to hear what they’re thinking.
“It’s a great benefit for us to hear what the fans are thinking. It’s pretty unique to be able to ask such a direct question to the general manager and the head coach and get their responses. Then, to watch and understand the response of the crowd and to see them nod and say, ‘Yeah, OK, I get it. I’m on board with your direction and philosophy,’ so that part helps.”
Johnson said the response among fans was positive and significant.
“The excitement of them spreading the word to their friends and seatmates has a big impact for us,” Johnson said. “The response of fans sending messages to their friends on social media, and their friends saying, ‘I missed it; I’ve got to go to the next one,’ that adds a lot of value for us.”
Bradley and Caldwell each made introductory remarks to the forum, with the pair answering questions on free agency, draft philosophy and the Jaguars’ roster for about an hour.
Bradley talked extensively to the group about the importance of transparency, noting that he and Caldwell believe strongly in fans understanding the direction of the organization.
“Ideally, we want everybody – not just our players, but our fans – to own it,” Bradley said. “To do that, I think you have to be genuine. I think you have to be open and as much as possible, be truthful. We can’t give them ideas who we’re taking with the third pick, but I think as best we can we owe it to our fans.”
Bradley said he has sensed an increased bond between the team and fans in his year on the job.
“I think it’s growing,” Bradley said. “I’ve not heard anything but positive comments as to the direction we’re going. Now, I’m sure there are some people who have questions, but that’s OK. I think it gives you a chance in that type of forum to be challenged with questions, but we need to be challenged, so the whole atmosphere and how it’s set up is great.”
Bradley also on Tuesday discussed the experience of coaching the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last week.
While Caldwell and Bradley each said the Senior Bowl was a scouting opportunity – with Caldwell saying it will particularly benefit the Jaguars because they have multiple mid-round selections – Bradley said an additional positive was the reaction of players and media to the Jaguars’ approach to the game.
Bradley and the coaching staff drew praise from media covering the game, not only for the intensity and organization of practices, but for their ability to get the South team to play with enthusiasm and cohesion. The South won the game, 20-10, last Saturday.
“Any opportunity to put our organization in high regard, and portray our organization in high regard, I think we have to take advantage of that,” Bradley said. “Whether it’s at the Senior Bowl, or being transparent in fan forums, I think we have to take advantage of those opportunities and present the organization as something people can take pride in.”
Bradley also said the positive attention could have residual on-field impact.
“I think it’s good in that it is a competitive league,” Bradley said. “You’re always competing to gain an edge, so I think it’s good that when players talk to their agents and word passes on that they had a good experience.
“Players really gravitate toward people and organizations that have similar philosophies. The more a player knows about your organization, the more they might gravitate to it. We might not be a fit for everybody, but once word gets out about our style, we’ll gravitate toward certain types of players.”