When I spent time in Jacksonville recently, I didn’t see a bulletin board in the Jaguars’ locker room.
That makes sense, as Gus Bradley has no intention of using one.
(Also, bulletin boards are a lot like dodo birds in the age of the iPad. The bulletin board is replaced by video screens all around the team facility with the daily schedule, tips and quotes. “Bulletin board material” lives on as a concept.)
As Bradley has revealed his coaching personality and philosophy, he has shown why he was such an appealing candidate for the vacancies in Philadelphia and Jacksonville, and why general manager Dave Caldwell jumped to hire him for the Jaguars.
I really like his stance on motivation.
I’m frequently critical of players who find slights everywhere and go to a pretend gas station -- where everything is an insult and no one thinks he can achieve a thing -- to get their fuel.
Some coaches hype up such slights, blowing up quotations and headlines -- even exaggerating them or creating stuff that’s not there -- to use in PowerPoint presentations and for stoking the fires.
Bradley won’t follow suit.
“There are some motivations that are short-lived and we understand that,” Bradley said. “Not to take away it’s importance, sometime it’s important. But I’d rather have long-term motivation. As they get better, that sense of pride will come along with it. I’m not against it, I just don’t want to hold on to that to use it to motivate our team.
“Then every week you’re looking for something and if there is a week there is nothing, then what? So we just don’t go there.”
One of Bradley’s key players has built a successful career largely off of his desire to show people they are wrong about him.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew knows the teams that passed on him in the draft (they all did) and knows the names of writers who didn’t regard him as a prime draft prospect.
At the start of the offseason he spoke about the people who don’t think he can make it back from the Lisfranc foot injury that cost him 10 games last season. Reporters who were part of the interview pointed out that no one present had written such a thing.
He was measured and reasonable when I asked him about slights as motivation and Bradley's philosophy.
“I think everybody is fueled by something,” Jones-Drew said. “I know Gus wants to say you should want to be the best, and that’s the foundation. But every now and then you have Murphy, we like to call him, jump on your back and you’ve got to have something a little extra in the tank, and that’s what that’s for.
“In Cecil [Shorts’] case or in my case, there have been some mistakes made on us. Obviously for me, not necessarily people not drafting me, but every year it’s something, another question: Can I do it? How can I do that? I’ve been playing football 20 years, man. When I’m training, I try to turn a negative into a positive to help me go forward. I’m not losing sleep at night because someone told me I’m bad. I’ve overcome worse things than that.”
The Jaguars lack talent at a lot of spots and are not likely to be very good this season.
In some places, the predictions might result in T-shirts, mottos, slogans and, yes, bulletin-board material. “Build the Monster” worked beautifully for Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts last year, and it wasn’t a bad thing. But the level of exterior “disrespect” is way down a year later for Indianapolis, so now what?
I like Bradley and the Jaguars’ approach concerning long-term, internal motivation. I hope it works and becomes contagious.
“We’re looking for guys who are self-starters, self-motivators,” Caldwell said. “The ideal situation is a guy that’s motivated internally.”