For the first time in five seasons, John Dorsey is not around the Kansas City Chiefs.
For the first time in five seasons, Gus Bradley is not around the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But their contributions to the success of those two franchises in 2017 cannot be diminished nor should they be forgotten.
Dorsey was hired by the Chiefs in 2013 as general manager. A skilled and successful talent evaluator with the Green Bay Packers, Dorsey was brought in to upgrade the talent on a Kansas City roster coming off a 2-14 season.
Bradley was hired by the Jaguars in 2013 as the head coach. A master tactician as the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, Bradley was brought in to repair the AFC’s worst defense and restore the Jaguars as a playoff contender. Bradley also inherited a 2-14 team.
Bradley was fired by the Jaguars last December, and Dorsey parted ways with the Chiefs after the 2017 NFL draft.
Bradley did fix the Jacksonville defense – and that defense now has the Jaguars sitting atop the AFC South with a 5-3 record. And Dorsey did upgrade the Kansas City roster, stocking the lineup with players that have the Chiefs sitting atop the AFC West with a 6-3 record.
In his first three seasons as coach, the Jaguars took baby steps on defense as Bradley was collecting the talent that fit his system. Jacksonville improved to 27th on defense in 2013, 26th in 2014 and 24th in 2015. But the Jaguars took a giant step in 2016, vaulting all the way into the NFL’s Top 10 in defense.
The Jaguars signed end Abry Jones as an undrafted college free agent in 2013, then drafted linebacker Telvin Smith in the fifth round in 2014. The Jaguars hit on cornerback Jalen Ramsey in the first round, linebacker Myles Jack in the second and end Yannick Ngakoue in the third, all in the 2016 draft, and also signed free agents Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson that offseason.
The Jaguars finished sixth in the NFL in defense a year ago, but Jacksonville was able to win only three games. With a 14-48 overall record as head coach, Bradley was dismissed by the Jaguars.
But those seven defenders brought in under Bradley’s watch all start for the Jaguars now. Jacksonville also signed free-agent starters Calais Campbell at end, A.J. Bouye at cornerback and Barry Church at safety in 2017, and the Jaguars have allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season. Jacksonville has held four of its eight opponents to fewer than 10 points and has one shutout.
The Jaguars also have allowed the third fewest yards in the NFL this season. They lead the league in both pass defense and sacks and rank third with their 16 defensive takeaways. Bradley is now the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers, but his thumbprints remain across the country in Florida on one of the NFL’s best defenses.
And Dorsey’s thumbprints are all over the AFC West front-runners. Eleven of the starters were drafted by Dorsey, including eight on the NFL’s seventh-ranked offense. He drafted all three of the Chiefs’ most explosive weapons, finding tight end Travis Kelce in the third round in 2013, Tyreek Hill in the fifth round in 2016 and running back Kareem Hunt in the third round in 2017.
Dorsey also engineered the trade that brought quarterback Alex Smith to the Chiefs in 2013, then drafted the franchise’s quarterback of the future last April. Dorsey traded up in the first round to select Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech. He also left behind Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters, the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015. Dorsey took him in the first round of that draft.
Success rarely comes overnight in sports. Teams build toward that success. The Chiefs and Jaguars shouldn’t forget the guys who did the building … even if those builders are no longer in the buildings.