While the past few weeks were at times difficult, and while no one in the NFL likes to see teammates leave, the Jaguars’ middle linebacker said overall he likes what he hears from those rebuilding and restructuring the franchise.
David Caldwell and Gus Bradley have a mandate. And Posluszny said after talking with the Jaguars’ new general manager and head coach, not only is he excited about being part of that mandate, but about where it eventually will lead.
“I’ve only had small conversations with both, but you get a chance to meet with them and you realize they have a plan,” Posluszny said recently. “They’re going to do everything they can to help the organization succeed. They have a timeframe to work with. They can build from the ground up and they have a set plan in place and they’re going to execute that.
“That’s exciting for us, because that’s going to bring success and stability.”
Posluszny, who signed with the Jaguars in the 2011 offseason as an unrestricted free agent, started 32 games the last two seasons, and set a franchise record for tackles this past season. With the release this offseason of safety Dawan Landry, he is the last remaining member of a free-agent class that included not only himself, but linebacker Clint Session, Landry, defensive end Matt Roth and cornerback Drew Coleman.
Posluszny said he didn’t take for granted he would be part of the plan moving forward. In the NFL, he said, you can’t assume such things, and he said it’s clear that under Bradley he and everyone else – from the most established veteran to the newest waiver-wire signing – will have to make the roster every day.
“I’m going to have to earn it, compete and play extremely well on the field, but I feel comfortable they’re going to give me the opportunity,” he said.
Bradley at the recent NFL owners meetings called Posluszny a “tough, reliable, smart” player, essentially assigning to Posluszny the exact traits Bradley wants in a player.
“He’s got it all,” Bradley said. “I just know I really loved his passion. In the time I sat and visited with him, I could tell he’s a passionate player. Football is extremely, extremely important to him. I know the team gravitates toward him.
“We’re fortunate to have him. We have to get him to play at another level, too.”
Posluszny spoke recently, in the wake of the front office’s decisions to release not only Landry and cornerback Aaron Ross, but to allow linebacker Daryl Smith – who Posluszny often has referred to as the Jaguars’ best defensive player – to test free agency.
“That’s the hardest part about the game,” Posluszny said. “You’ve played with guys that are great guys, and they’re outstanding teammates. You build a bond with those guys. You go through a lot together. You train together. You get a feel for them on the field. It’s very difficult.
“At the end of the day, you know it’s part of our profession, and it happens on every team every year, but that doesn’t make it easy.”
But Posluszny said it’s also clear that those on the roster next season have a chance to be part of something new, and something that can build a foundation.
“He’s highly energetic,” Posluszny said of Bradley, who spent the last four seasons as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, a team that led the NFL in points allowed this past season. “He has seen success first-hand. He knows what works. He constantly talked about getting the best of our abilities out of us. It’s exciting for a player because you know you’re going to be challenged. He’s going to provide you with an opportunity to play to the best of your abilities.
“That’s exciting for me, because I want to play better. I want to do better than I have in the past. We have a head coach that will drive that point home. I want to play at an elite level. That’s what he wants from me as well. He has a plan to help us get to that point.”
Bradley since his hiring has talked extensively of creating an atmosphere of competition. He has said the coming year could compare to the one he experienced with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, a year when that franchise reestablished its foundation with 284 roster moves.
Bradley also has talked of players being uncomfortable, and “uncomfortable” doesn’t mean “easy” or “pleasant.” Still, Posluszny said the approach should be a welcome one.
“For the men who can handle it, that will bring out the best in them,” Posluszny said. “We’re going to have to compete at the highest level just to maintain our jobs. That should bring out the best in us.”
Posluszny said whatever it takes – competition, unease, pleasant or unpleasant surroundings – is fine so long as it means winning. Originally a second-round selection by the Buffalo Bills in the2007 NFL Draft, he is entering his seventh NFL season. He has played individually at a high level during much of his career. He has signed big contracts. What he hasn’t done is play on a winning team.
“Winning is the ultimate goal in the NFL, and I haven’t done it yet,” he said. “In six years in the NFL, I haven’t experienced it. So to hear a guy who is very excited about it and wants to win more than anything – as a player, that’s what you want to hear. To play in a playoff game, that would be such a great thing. That’s what you train for, to be in that type of situation.
“I’m looking forward to stability and success. That’s what we think this leadership can bring. As a player who has almost as many head coaches as I’ve had years in the NFL, it’s exciting to know that with these guys in place, this could be our chance.