JACKSONVILLE – The time came, and it had to be done.
To hear David Caldwell tell it, that was why the Jaguars opted to relieve former Head Coach Gus Bradley of his duties early Sunday evening following a loss to the Houston Texans.
Caldwell, the Jaguars' general manager, said he and Owner Shad Khan had decided while attending NFL Owners Meetings last week in Dallas it would "regrettably" be necessary to relieve the fourth-year head coach of his duties.
"We realized this was the direction we were going to have to go," Caldwell said Monday during a press conference at EverBank Field.
Caldwell, making his first public comments since Bradley's dismissal, said the plan entering the weekend was to dismiss Bradley following the Houston game regardless of the outcome. The Jaguars lost a 20-8 third-quarter lead in a 21-20 loss.
The team announced Bradley's dismissal less than two hours later, and Bradley returned to Jacksonville on the team charter. Former assistant head coach offense/offensive line Doug Marrone was named interim head coach Monday.
Caldwell, who hired Bradley in his first major move as general manager in 2013, said he shared responsibility for Jaguars' current issues. The Jaguars are 14-48 since Caldwell and Bradley took over in 2013.
The Jaguars are 2-12 this season, including losses in a franchise single-season-record nine consecutive games.
Jaguars Owner Shad Khan said in a statement Sunday that Caldwell would lead the search for a head coach. Caldwell was asked Monday if he felt fortunate that was the case.
"I don't feel fortunate at all," Caldwell said. "When you've only won two games in the season, Gus is not the only man to blame here. When you find yourself as an organization where we are right now, there's a lot of blame to go around – including myself."
Caldwell thanked Bradley and Bradley's family for their philanthropic work and their work in the Jacksonville community.
"I know Jacksonville will sorely miss them," Caldwell said. "Gus is a great man, a great person, a great family man. Unfortunately it did not work out for him at this time."
Caldwell one reason for dismissing Bradley now as opposed to the end of the season was to begin the search for a new head coach, but also said his relationship with Bradley played a role.
"Gus and I have a unique relationship," Caldwell said. "It was built on trust and support. Once we made that decision, I could not lie to him. I respect him too much. Now that we're going to start a process of finding a new head coach, it wasn't fair to him or his family to have him here in the building."
Caldwell said telling Bradley of the move was "tough."
"He's a great person," Caldwell said. "You don't like to have to relieve anybody of their duties, especially a friend."
Caldwell said he informed Bradley of the decision following the game, and that Khan spoke to Bradley by phone shortly thereafter. He said Khan planned to meet with Bradley soon.
Caldwell declined to provide details about exactly why he felt the Jaguars didn't win with Bradley, but emphasized "it's not just Gus' fault."
"There's a lot of blame to go around, including myself, and I'll say that again," Caldwell said. "Gus gave everything he had. It just didn't work out for him."
Caldwell also said no consideration had been given to dismissing Bradley earlier in the season. There had been speculation that Bradley could be fired after a 36-22 loss to Tennessee in late October dropped the Jaguars to 2-5.
"It didn't even cross our mind at the time; our sole focus was to beat the Kansas City Chiefs," Caldwell said. "Gus was our head coach, and we're doing everything to support him to make sure we could maybe get on a run and beat the Kansas City Chiefs. … The season wasn't out of touch considering our division and maybe where our division was going to be. If you got on a roll and won three or four games, you know, you're right there."
Bradley fired offensive coordinator Greg Olson two days after that game, hiring Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. The Jaguars have lost the seven games since.
Caldwell said if he and/or Bradley made any particular error entering the season it was a belief that the Jaguars' offense would improve on the strides it took last season when quarterback Blake Bortles set franchise records for yards passing (4,428) and touchdowns (35).
"I think it was probably we counted on that and then looking back, and maybe we started to get some injuries and stuff like that and then we started losing the games close and I think guys just started pressing," Caldwell said.
Caldwell also cited the Jaguars' minus-16 giveaway/takeaway ratio.
"Obviously turnover ratio is the one stat that is tried and true and we lead the league in it," Caldwell said. "When you lead the league in turnover ratio you're not going to win games."
Caldwell also discounted the notion that Bradley's process of emphasizing daily improvement had been an issue.
"The way Gus did it has been done before and it has had great success," Caldwell said. "His way can work and it didn't here and maybe it wasn't the right time for our players and the type of players that I provided him with. It's a shame."
Caldwell also discounted the notion that the team lacked discipline under Bradley. The Jaguars rank second in the NFL in penalties this season, second in penalty yards.
"Let's not mistake, Gus is a disciplinarian," Caldwell said. "He had a different way of doing things and although it may not have been in front of you guys or in front of a teammate, there was discipline that was involved here.
"It's different from team to team and a different way of doing things but I think maybe a different voice, maybe somebody else with a different way of approaching that might help."