Gus Bradley doesn't waste time thinking about what might have been.
Two years ago, he had just wrapped up an interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars when he checked his phone and saw missed calls from Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie. The Eagles wanted to notify Bradley, who had interviewed for the head coaching job in Philadelphia, that they planned to hire Chip Kelly instead.
"It was a great process," Bradley said of the interview process. "I'm lucky in that both of my experiences went well."
He recalled how he came away from the interview with the Eagles knowing that it was a "first-class organization." That belief was further strengthened when former Eagles head coach Andy Reid called Bradley during the process singing the franchise's praises.
Bradley was hired by Jacksonville shortly after Kelly signed with the Eagles. Unlike Kelly, Bradley didn't have immediate success. The Jaguars stumbled out of the gate losing each of their first eight games, but rallied to win four in the second half of the season. Bradley brought a plan and a vision to Jacksonville. Part of that was emulating the defense that he once coordinated in Seattle. Jacksonville signed two former Seahawks this offseason in defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons. The Jaguars boast a young secondary bolstered by a pair of 2013 draft picks in safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz. The entire defense will be tested by the Eagles' offense this Sunday.
"I believe that the NFL is a precision league. I think whatever you decide to do, you have to be precise. You have to be on your job," Bradley said Wednesday on a conference call. "They're precise, but they add that extra element of high tempo. They get you high tempo and they're precise. It's really a challenge. It's really a challenge on the defense."
Bradley explained that what will make gameplanning for the Eagles even more difficult is Kelly's playcalling.
"They do a great job of mixing and matching things," Bradley said. "They have their core plays, but a different way of attacking it. It's really hard to get a bead on them and what they're doing."
It also helps that the Eagles have the league's rushing champion in LeSean McCoy, who is "an explosive play waiting to happen."
"You can have an eight-, nine-man front and he can make you look foolish," Bradley added.
Unfortunately for Bradley, he did not inherit a ready-to-go offense at the time of his hire. Blaine Gabbert was unable to move the ball at quarterback, so the team turned to Chad Henne. They signed Toby Gerhart to be the foundation back in free agency and have unearthed three talented rookie receivers in Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and the undrafted Allen Hurns. Even though they used the No. 3 overall pick on quarterback Blake Bortles, Bradley said the Jaguars decided early on that Henne's experience was simply too invaluable, especially with new players at running back and wide receiver.
Bradley might not think about what might have been if he was hired as the Eagles' head coach, but he hopes Eagles fans will after Sunday's game.