Gus Bradley grew up in Zumbrota, Minn., a deceptive name for a town that doesn’t exactly have everything from Z to A.
But he did take one great gift from his mom Gloria. He says that she greeted him every morning with the same promise: “Something good is about to happen.”
He thought about it during the crash-and-burn Sundays of the 2016 season, when he and everyone else in the NFL knew he would soon be the ex-coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It happened two weeks before season’s end, and he was 2-12. Typically, he says that was good. Two extra weeks to purge and grieve, and then get back in the game.
And here he is, the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers, with Anthony Lynn replacing Mike McCoy as the head coach. The Chargers themselves did all their goodbyes in the spring, leaving their building on Murphy Canyon Road four months after the league approved the move north. Bradley is about as far away from Jacksonville as you can get and remain in football.
“All adversity is not bad,” Bradley said. “You go through all those emotions and put them aside. Then you look ahead. Being brought up that way and hearing that something good will happen. … I really believe that.”
Most players recite the right things when their coach gets fired. To hear the outpouring in Jacksonville when Bradley got fired, even though the Jaguars had a disastrous 3-13 season when some people were picking them to win the AFC Central, was to realize that (A) Bradley had sown some respect in that locker room and (B) maybe the power of positive thinking doesn’t always work.
“We let you down,” tweeted Roy Miller III, the defensive tackle. “Gus Bradley will someday be known as a mastermind. Sometimes innovators are ahead of their time.”
The Jaguars were second in the NFL in penalties and were minus-16 in turnovers, as quarterback Blake Bortles sputtered. There is nothing more desolate in pro sports than an NFL team that loses hope at the halfway point….