JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan clarified his expectations for coach Gus Bradley in 2016.
A winning record.
Khan announced in late December that Bradley would return in 2016 but said the Jaguars needed to be significantly better than they were in 2015, when they finished 5-11. In his first public comments since that announcement, Khan said a winning record in 2016 is "everybody’s reasonable expectation at this point."
"I think we want to have a team that is sustainable and wins," Khan said Friday after the team’s annual state of the franchise address at EverBank Field. "We’ve spent time, patience and investment to build a solid foundation that’s going to last for a long time."
Bradley is 12-36 in his first three seasons and 2016 was supposed to be the final year of his contract, but the team announced last week that he and the coaching staff were given one-year extensions. That certainly won’t be a deterrent for firing Bradley if the Jaguars post their ninth consecutive non-winning season in 2016.
"We don’t want to have any reason other than be focused on winning on the field, so this [the contract extension] really removes any distraction off the field," Khan said.
Bradley’s fate relies squarely on the defense. The offense made significant strides in 2015 behind second-year players Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Bortles threw a franchise-record 35 touchdown passes (second in the NFL only to Tom Brady) for a franchise-record 4,428 yards. Robinson set a franchise-record with 14 touchdown receptions, and he and Hurns both surpassed 1,000 receiving yards, the first time the Jaguars have had two 1,000-yard receivers since 2001.
The defense, though, has been bad throughout Bradley’s entire tenure. The Jaguars gave up the second-most points in franchise history (448) in 2015 and three of the top five worst scoring defenses in team history occurred under Bob Babich, whom Bradley fired on Jan. 5. The Jaguars gave up a franchise-record 449 points in Babich’s first season (2013) and the 412 points the defense allowed in 2014 is the fifth-worst in team history.
During Babich’s three-year tenure the Jaguars’ defense recorded the fewest interceptions in the NFL (26) and ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.3 points per game), 31st in third-down defense (43.8 percent) and 29th in total defense (375.0 yards per game).
General manager Dave Caldwell said the team will be aggressive in free agency, particularly when it comes to finding pass rushers and a free safety, and the team is expected to use the majority of its eight draft picks on defense.
Despite the fact the franchise is 14-50 in Khan’s four seasons as owner, he’s optimistic that the on-field product is heading in the correct direction.
"I think it gives me hope," Khan said. "I’ve been here four years. I know where we were. I know the journey we’ve been on, and I see the progress we’ve made and how far we have to go. I think the offense last year, if we had said [it would have improved as much as it did] certainly I’d be delighted. I think the defense ... we’ve got some heavy lifting to do."