JACKSONVILLE – In 2018 offseason jaguars.com series featuring 11 former players talking about 11 current players, former Jaguars tight end Kyle Brady talks with senior correspondent Brian Sexton about the Jaguars' '17 success, the team's current tight ends and the team as it moves forward …
Question: As someone who played for the Jaguars the last time they went to the AFC Championship Game and who experienced success in Jacksonville, what did it mean for you to see them win the AFC South last season and advance to within a game of the Super Bowl?
Answer: It meant a lot. As a former Jaguar living in this community, I have interactions with fans every day. It was so encouraging to finally be a relevant team again into November and December, as opposed to looking forward to the draft and free agency for the last weeks of the season.
Q. What are your thoughts on Tom Coughlin's return as executive vice president of football operations and the impact of his personality and professional style on the Jags? Did you see this coming or were you surprised how quickly they were able to turn it around?
A: Each off season, fans would ask me what the team needed to do to return to prominence. I would often say I believed the team lacked three things. Those three things were structure, accountability and discipline. When Tom Coughlin was hired, I told people the organization just got an injection of those three things in one hire. Last offseason I believed the team was capable of going 8-8 or better based on the strength of their defensive unit and some of the offensive pieces they added. I thought it would be possible to steal a couple extra wins if they could perform in the fourth quarter of close games and they were able to do that. I did not foresee them making a deep playoff run, but it can and did happen by playing some of their better football in the latter half of the season and in the playoffs. It was a function of their building confidence and momentum into January.
Q: The Jaguars have had either you or Marcedes Lewis as their starting tight end for the past 19 seasons. Now they start over. How difficult will it be to play such a challenging position with a room that hasn't been together before?
A: To have two players manning one position over 19 seasons is very unusual and I'm proud to have been a part of that. The league has become very transient and because of that transience, players and coaches don't always have the luxury of becoming acclimated to one another and systems before being put in high-pressure situations. I have confidence, however, in the leadership that is currently in place and that leadership's abilities to prepare players to deal with whatever challenges they may need to overcome over the course of a season.
Q: Did you get a sense of how the Jaguars under Head Coach Doug Marrone would use the tight end? The Pittsburgh game in the playoffs sure seemed to indicate he wanted to get the ball down the seam to the big guys. How much will the running game open things up for the tight ends?
I was excited to see coaches Marrone and [offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett utilize the tight end position the way they did, especially late in the season and in the playoffs. A strong running game can do wonders for your entire passing game, including opening up the middle of the field. I know Coach Coughlin has traditionally loved versatile tight ends and believes strongly in using them to loosen up defenses. I have seen nothing to indicate a different intention with this team.
Q: What do you know of Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul? Can they make a difference in an offense that wants to use them and help create more big plays?
A: I don't know a great deal about them other than that they are apparently big, strong versatile athletes. I know they would not have been brought here if this staff did not believe they could be difference-makers and would fit in well in the locker room.
Q. I know you follow football. Do you think this Jacksonville team can make a move in 2018 and be a Super Bowl team? Having done that in 2007 you know how difficult it can be. What do you suppose will be the difference in a team that was so close last year?
A: I believe the 2018 version of the Jaguars will only be restrained by whatever limitations they may put on themselves. They now have the talent to go as far as their work and desire will take them. They will need to get some breaks as far as staying healthy at key positions, but that is not unlike any of the better teams out there. Like most fans, I would like to see more consistency on offense and I believe they can be.
Q: You've done so much off the field since you retired a decade ago. What makes Kyle Brady tick instead of professional football?
A: I thoroughly enjoyed my time in professional football, but I honestly also looked forward to the "second half" of my life and pursuing another profession. It was not easy, but I managed to put myself through law school and become a certified financial planner. I figured if I could survive training camps with Joe Paterno, Bill Parcells, Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick, law school and passing the bar could not be so bad. I practice law now and specialize in the areas of real estate and estate planning. I also consult with former players leaving the game, helping them with the financial and professional transition.