ORLANDO – Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley’s quarterbacking message remains clear.
That message is that there’s a very real possibility – even a probability – that Chad Henne will begin the 2014 season as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback.
Bradley, speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the 2014 NFL Annual Meetings, reiterated the stance early Tuesday morning, a point Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell made Monday afternoon – that Henne remains a real possibility to start next season no matter where the team selects a quarterback in the May 8-10 2014 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars re-signed Henne shortly before the start of the NFL’s unrestricted free-agency period earlier this month.
“We feel very comfortable saying Chad is the guy,” Bradley said during the breakfast, which was held at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando early Tuesday.
The Jaguars continue to scout quarterbacks in the draft. They last week attended the Pro Days of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, each of whom has been projected as a possible Top 3 selection. Bradley, General Manager David Caldwell, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and Senior Vice President of Football Technology and Analytics Tony Khan – the group that attended last week’s Pro Days – are expected to attend Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Pro Day Thursday.
But Caldwell and Bradley have said there is no guarantee the Jaguars will select a quarterback No. 3, and Caldwell said Monday wherever they select one it’s likely the player wouldn’t be ready to start immediately.
Bradley on Tuesday said he favors establishing an environment in which a young quarterback can compete without the pressure of being named the starter immediately.
“It’s probably a little different,” Bradley said Tuesday. “But that’s the approach we’re going in with. It’s similar to Seattle (in 2012). Matt Flynn was the quarterback and was the guy. Russell Wilson got drafted and there were no expectations of him being the starter. Because of that world, it gave him a chance to put all of his energy into competing. You saw him progress very nicely.
“Not that that’s a model, but that’s an example of how it can work. If it takes a year, it takes a year. That’s why we signed Chad Henne.”
Bradley said it’s not about giving the starter’s job to Henne as much as it is creating the best possible environment for the team and young player.
“You hope that (a young quarterback) can come in and compete right away, and you hope they come in and have the mindset,” he said, “but you want to create an environment where you say, ‘That’s all we want you to concentrate on. Just come in and compete your tail off and take it from there.’ The environment they come in with is so critical.
“We’ve seen guys who come in and start right away and they struggle. Expectations sometimes create added stress for these players. It’s already a stressful environment. Why add to it when you know it can create anxiety and take them away from competing to the best of their ability?”
Also on Tuesday:
*Bradley said second-year running back Denard Robinson reported back to EverBank Field at 212 pounds two weeks ago, up from about 187 last season. Robinson, a fifth-round selection from Michigan in the 2013 NFL Draft, is expected to focus on playing running back this season after being used at wide receiver, Wildcat quarterback and in a return role last season. “He sees it as a tremendous opportunity,” Bradley said. “He understands, ‘I am a running back and I have to get myself ready to go.’ He has a different mindset than when he came in after the draft.”…
*Bradley had this to say about the Jaguars’ football culture: “I think we have limited egos that allow everybody to express their opinions, then once it’s all said and done we have one guy making the decision.”
*Though the NFL has moved the draft back two weeks this season, Bradley said that shouldn’t have any effect on rookies preparing for the season. The team will still have 10 organized team activities practices, though those sessions will be scheduled into a shorter period than last offseason. “That can be a good thing for learning,” Bradley said….
*Bradley said he has texted with suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon this offseason, but that under NFL rules the contact he can have with Blackmon isn’t as extensive as he would like. The two haven’t texted in a couple of weeks, Bradley said. “I wish I could have more extended conversation with him,’” he said. “My feelings toward him haven’t changed. We’ve reached out to him, but to be able to sit down and just visit with him – that part I miss.”…
*Bradley addressed the team acquiring players from Seattle, where he coached as defensive coordinator from 2009-2012. The team recently signed former Seahawks defensive ends
*Bradley touched on defensive end/pass rushers near the top of the draft, saying he and Caldwell have discussed bringing South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to Jacksonville for a pre-draft visit and that Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack would be a “Leo” pass-rushing candidate in the team’s defensive scheme.