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View from the O-Zone: New tone, same coach


JACKSONVILLE – The tone was different, and the urgency was real. Undeniably so.

The more-urgent, more-pointed Gus Bradley – if there's a storyline around the Jaguars this week, that's it.

Fans and media heard it in the head coach's voice Sunday in the wake of a second disappointing loss in eight days. Bradley followed that postgame press conference in Tampa by being equally urgent and pointed when speaking with the media on Monday.

But as for Jaguars players, if you're thinking they would be telling stories this week of Bradley punching holes in walls, or grabbing offensive linemen by the throat …

Well, this just isn't that kind of story.

"He's the same Gus – positive, upbeat," defensive tackle Roy Miller said as the Jaguars (1-4) prepared to play the Houston Texans (1-4) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

"He's just trying to get us to trust the process. If he believes in what he says – like he does – you would expect him to continue saying what he's saying."

Wide receiver Allen Robinson echoed those thoughts.

"It's pretty much the same Gus," Robinson said. "I haven't noticed anything different. I'm pretty sure it's going to be the same. He continues to point out issues that we've got to correct – just like any coach would. I don't think he's changed, and I don't really expect him to."

Bradley was asked Wednesday if he was indeed more animated and – to paraphrase – if he kicked some "tail" in practice Wednesday. He laughed.

"I don't know," Bradley said. "I think that was more at the point in time I was a little emotional."

Bradley then talked about not wanting to take away from the positives the team has shown through five games, about not wanting to hinder the development.

"The things that they are building, we want to ensure they keep building and then these things we need to correct … let's act on them and get it done," he said.

He was asked if it was too late to change his practice-field demeanor.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't want to throw them into a tizzy how I am, but they understand. I think they felt the same thing from everybody. I think everybody reacted."

And, really, that's the only thing Bradley could do. He showed emotion Sunday and Monday, and made it clear what had happened wasn't acceptable. If you missed that, you weren't listening.

Players certainly heard it, too, and felt it after the game Sunday.

Images from Wednesday's practice as the Jaguars begin preparations for the Houston Texans.

That's good, and that's important. But to expect Bradley to suddenly walk the halls of EverBank Field yelling "Win or Else" or "Make a Mistake and Catch the Train" is to expect to change who he is as a coach.

More specifically, it's asking him to be something he's not.

When a coach does that, he's finished.

Bradley is very much not finished – and to hear players tell it, it's not as if fiery speeches or threats are needed to send the proper message.

"Honestly, when you look at the film, it's us that aren't doing the things we're supposed to do," Miller said. "He's saying the right thing to us. He's setting an example of, 'Hey, I'm going to be consistent; I'm not going to stress and fret because if I do, I'm not staying true to the process.'"

Will this week be a turning point? Will there be a long winning streak where we look back and say, "Yes ... yes, it was the urgency that did it!!"

That would be terrific, and no question this fan base deserves it.

What's more realistic is the Jaguars continue improving in the way they have early this season, and their improvement thus far this season has come in the way it often comes in the NFL: In fits and starts with as much frustration as exhilaration.

That sort of improvement isn't always fun. It's not fun to be improved, to be closer than you were, but to still not be winning consistently. Maddening mistakes and missed opportunities aren't fun, either. That has been the story of the last two weeks. The result is 1-4 instead of 3-2 and leading the AFC South.

The two paragraphs above represent the optimist's view. The pessimist's view is bad teams make mistakes, and that the Jaguars' mistakes the past two games just prove they're bad.

That's not the feeling around the Jaguars, and there are signs supporting that feeling. The offensive development. Blake Bortles' development. The fact that three of four losses this season could have been victories.

Those things are real. They're signs that when Jaguars coaches and players talk of being close, the conversation is planted in reality.

Either way, Sunday is big. While Bradley didn't change after last Sunday, he did send a message. Mistakes need to be reduced, and the last few weeks haven't been acceptable. On that front, the Jaguars need to be better Sunday and going forward.

Get a few more details right more often and a lot of bigger things will follow.

And nothing would set a better tone than that.

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