JACKSONVILLE – Paul Posluszny's reaction was heartfelt.
"You feel terrible that it happened, because it's our fault," Posluszny said.
So it was around EverBank Field Tuesday as Jaguars players gathered for the first time since Head Coach Gus Bradley was dismissed from his duties Sunday.
Players and coaches on Tuesday began preparing to play the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field Saturday, and that preparation was a priority. The day's practice was a priority, too, and players said Interim Head Coach Doug Marrone set the tone for the day and week early.
"Obviously you felt the presence gone," linebacker Telvin Smith said of Bradley, "but at the same time you just go with today. The schedule is the same and guys are trying to understand the situation."
Posluszny said Marrone set the standard in Tuesday morning's team meeting with the message that full preparation for Saturday is "the right thing to do for the organization, for the town – and because it's the right thing to do for Coach Bradley."
"Let's finish strong, be professionals, win these last two games and see what happens after the season," Posluszny said.
When the media gathered in the locker room, a primary topic was reaction to Bradley's departure – and a wish that his 62-game tenure had turned out differently.
"It's tough, because Gus means a lot to us and he helped us a lot coming into the league," Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson said.
Smith, like Robinson, talked of Bradley's impact on him as a player and a person. Hurns and Robinson were rookies in 2014 – Bradley's second season – along with players such as quarterback Blake Bortles and wide receivers Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee.
"Obviously we are sad for Gus," Smith said. "It's a business and you understand that side of it and that's the side where you have to be a pro. But my relationship with Gus, that's the biggest thing with me. I felt that. I felt that. It's a tough situation.
"I can't say what he'll mean to me, I just know we'll be around each other, you know what I mean? I know that's a man I'll have a relationship with moving on."
The Jaguars (2-12) went 14-48 in Bradley's tenure with the first two seasons – 2013 and 2014 – a youth-oriented roster overhaul. They went 4-12 and 3-13 in those seasons before finishing 5-11 last season.
They began this season with many observers projecting a winning record and possibly a push for a postseason appearance. They started the season 0-3, then won back-to-back games before losing their last nine games before Bradley's dismissal.
The current nine-game losing streak is a franchise single-season record.
"As a player, you say 'This shouldn't happen to him,''' Posluszny said. "He's such a great man and you wish you could have played a lot better so that none of us are in this situation. You feel awful that it happened to him because he's so well-liked, because everybody loves him and because he gave everything he had to us. We didn't hold up our part."
Marks, one of the first unrestricted free agent-signees following the hiring of Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell in January 2013, expressed disappointment that Bradley's dismissal took place immediately after the Jaguars' loss at Houston.
Bradley flew to Jacksonville on the team charter after he learned of the decision.
"That sucked," Marks said. "If I had an opinion on if I thought that was the right move, I don't think that was the right way to do it – that he had to ride the plane home that way – but that ain't my call. They did it and made the move. Gus was very cordial about it, spoke with everybody and came through the plane shaking hands and just talking with people.
"Gus has always been a great person in that aspect, but I don't think us as players were ready to see that at that moment."
And while disappointment reigned Tuesday, Marks and other players also said players understand the NFL is a business, and that they will approach the situation – and preparation for Sunday – as such.
"Everybody before this year had that vision that we thought [a better season] was going to happen," Marks said. "Players, fans, coaches – everybody had that vision. It didn't, and in this business if you don't get it done it comes down to results and they're going to find somebody else.
"It's sad to see it, especially for a person who you liked so much as a person, but from a coach aspect or a player's perspective, if you don't get it done they make changes and continue to move.
"The game doesn't ever change. It's going to always be that way."