JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley kept his focus lofty Monday.
Bradley, in the wake of the Jaguars' second victory in three weeks, again on Monday afternoon opted to not frame the weekend's result in terms of winning or losing, instead focusing on playing as well as possible.
That approach resulted in the team's first "Victory Monday" of the season Monday.
And that approach isn't changing any time soon.
"What's been really cool is to validate it," Bradley said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 13-6 victory over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
"We've said, 'Hey, really keep it about us getting better. It doesn't matter who we play. It's another test on every Sunday to rest the preparation we've had during the week.' If everybody on our team plays to the best of their ability, that's even better than winning."
The Jaguars, after losing their first eight games of the season by double digits, have won two of their last three games, beating Tennessee 29-27 on November 10, losing to Arizona 27-14 on November 17 and beating the Texans on Sunday.
Bradley said focusing on themselves helped the Jaguars through the first eight games of the season, and it has enabled them to improve since. Bradley called the approach "higher than winning."
"You hear teams that say maybe they didn't play well and still won the game," Bradley said. "Our objective is to really sustain this and play at a high level all the time, regardless of who we play. That's what we're striving our team to get to – where they play their best all the time.
"If we do that, the winning will take care of itself."
Bradley gave players Monday off as a "Victory Monday," telling the players of the decision on the flight from Houston Sunday night.
"I had to really think about it," Bradley, who had not given players off following the team's first victory of the season two weeks before, said with a laugh. "I had to really think about it."
And the players' reaction?
"They were excited, and then they showed disappointment because I think that's what they wanted me to see," Bradley said, laughing.
Bradley also said that the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday factored into the decision.
"For the coaches, for prep time, I felt like we could best utilize the prep time today (Monday) rather than have them here Thursday working on red zone," Bradley said.
Also Monday, Bradley lauded running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was approached by coaches last week with the idea that Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett might get more reps against the Texans.
Todman indeed carried 11 times, rushing for 31 yards, and while Jones-Drew rushed just 14 times he had 84 yards for a 6.0-yards-per carry average and also scored his fifth touchdown of the season on a one-yard run in the first quarter.
"It was a challenging week for MoJo," Bradley said. "He handled it great. I think that may have had something to do with his productivity. He played fresher throughout the game. We'll continue to look at that."
Bradley said explosive runs were the key to the team's best rushing performance of the season. Jones-Drew had his longest run of the season – a 44-yarder that set up a second-quarter field goal – and the Jaguars finished with a season-high 118 yards rushing.
"I didn't see a chip (on the shoulder)," Bradley said of Jones-Drew. "I saw a guy who really wanted to do what was best for the team and who was willing try anything to help this team get better."
*Bradley said he spoke with defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey about the circumstances that led to the veteran defensive end not traveling with the team to Houston. "I thought it was best for him to stay home this weekend," Bradley said. "For 'Mince,' it was a challenge to get refocused on what's important and that we needed him to have his focus on the team. Not that it wasn't, but I think there was a sense that maybe he was straying away from that. He has a lot going on, and I wanted to refocus his attention on football." Bradley added, "I may have put the team in a difficult position because of it, but I felt the message needed to be clear to our team. He didn't do anything drastically wrong. He just has to come back in and go to work and clearly to show to the team this is his top priority. I think he will."
*Bradley said Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne had one of his best games of the season Sunday despite four sacks and heavy pressure from the Texans' defense. Henne completed 23 of 32 passes for 239 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. "I thought he did a really good job managing the game," Bradley said. "He showed a lot of courage standing in there and making plays."…
*Bradley said while he has spoken to quarterback Blaine Gabbert about the need to be ready, Henne likely will remain the starter. Bradley said he would not hesitate to play Gabbert, adding, "It's not going to be from Chad throwing one interception or if we have two three-and-outs in a row," Bradley said. Bradley said Gabbert has practiced well in recent weeks. Gabbert started three games this season, but Henne has started the last six. "We really feel strongly about Chad, but if something would take place, we wouldn't hesitate with Blaine," Bradley said….
*Bradley said he was pleased with the start on offense that resulted in an opening-drive touchdown run by Jones-Drew. "I thought the offensive staff did a nice job," Bradley said, noting that the team utilized rookie wide receiver Ace Sanders well….
*Second-year defensive end Andre Branch continues to impress coaches with his effort, Bradley said. Branch had a sack and a hurry Sunday and two of his three sacks this season have come in the last two games….
*Bradley lauded linebackers Paul Posluszny and Geno Hayes for their play on defense, and tight end Danny Noble and safeties Winston Guy and Chris Prosinski for their play on special teams….
*Reserve Running back Justin Forsett sustained a non-displaced foot fracture Sunday and is expected to be out 4-to-6 weeks. Bradley said he expects Forsett will be placed on injured reserve….
*Defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder) and Hayes (knee) likely won't practice Wednesday, but Bradley said they likely will play Sunday.…
*Cornerback Will Blackmon (AC joint/shoulder) and wide receiver Mike Brown (AC joint/shoulder) likely will practice Wednesday, Bradley said….