Jaguars formally introduce Bradley as head coach


Jaguars formally introduce Bradley as head coach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Gus Bradley's trip to the East Coast was supposed to be a one-day deal.

The plan was to interview with Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday and return home to Seattle.

Then the Eagles asked him to stay the night. And then the Jacksonville Jaguars called.

Good thing Bradley packed an extra suit.

Bradley's whirlwind week ended with him being introduced as Jacksonville's fifth head coach Friday. And if his new team plays with as much energy as the former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator brings to the table, then it shouldn't take long for the Jaguars to get back to on track.

``You've got to be genuine, you've got to be you,'' Bradley said. ``There are guys that have great passion, but no substance. Then you've got guys with great substance and maybe you don't feel the passion. Somehow you want both. I'm not trying to be a yeller or screamer. It's just me.

``I'm excited about this opportunity. If you want to put me in that category, then put me in that category. But don't take away my spirit. I'm going to do everything I can to not let that get taken away.''

A video of Bradley screaming at players to ``do your job!'' has gotten positive reviews in Jacksonville this week. And the coach got so wrapped up in talking about his new team Friday that he forgot to introduce his wife and four children.

His interview with owner Shad Khan and new general manager Dave Caldwell lasted 14 hours Wednesday, a captivating question-and-answer session that included football talk, countless stories and a strong vision for the small-market franchise.

Caldwell offered Bradley the job after dinner Wednesday night. He signed a four-year deal the next day.

``I know I've found the right man in Gus Bradley,'' said Caldwell, who took the GM job last week. ``His passion, his energy, his attention to detail, everything that makes him up as a true football coach is what we have today. Gus is a leader of men and he will bring a positive, passionate energy to this city, to this team and to this organization.''

Khan sat through most of the lengthy interview and quickly signed off on Bradley, who spent the last four seasons in Seattle.

For Khan, the hire marked a clean slate from the previous regime. Former owner Wayne Weaver convinced Khan to give general manager Gene Smith a three-year extension in November 2011, and Khan put Smith in charge of last year's coaching search that started and ended with Mike Mularkey.

But the former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator failed to make the Jaguars better in his first season. Jacksonville finished 2-14, the worst record in franchise history. The team failed to make the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.

Khan responded by firing Smith and hiring Caldwell, whose first decision was to oust Mularkey.

``When you look at the amount of time and the amount of resources we spent and what we had to show for it, very little,'' said Khan, adding that the team spent $141 million in 2012. ``Then you say, `What do I have to do? What is the right thing to do?' We have to start fresh and we have to get people that believe in the mission and people who aren't going to throw their hands up.''

Caldwell interviewed Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden before striking a deal with Bradley.

Khan reiterated that the Jaguars are in rebuilding mode, a stark contrast to the picture Smith and Mularkey painted for the new owner before last season.

``Patience is one thing, but to me the most important thing is honesty about ourselves and where we are,'' Khan said. ``I think it's very, very important not to be - the word is delusional.''

Bradley realizes he's got plenty of work to do in Jacksonville.

After mostly whiffing in the draft and in free agency in recent years, the Jaguars lack playmakers on both sides of the ball.

But Bradley has a history of turning young players into stars. Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin, rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner, safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Chris Clemons all blossomed under his tutelage in Seattle.

``Our full objective and our whole focus were on just getting better,'' Bradley said. ``It wasn't on winning this or winning that, or this was a big game, it was just every opportunity was a chance to get better. Get better. Everything we do to compete and do it better than it's ever been done before and let's see where it takes us now. If we do that I like our chances.''

Bradley didn't rule out keeping some of Mularkey's assistant coaches or calling defensive schemes himself. He said Seattle defensive line coach Todd Wash and Chicago linebackers coach Bob Babich are ``in strong consideration'' to become Jacksonville's defensive coordinator.

``Let's bring some enthusiasm to Jacksonville like the city deserves,'' he said. ``And we're trying to find coaches that have that same type of demeanor.''

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.