ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **For Gus Bradley, there's no harm in using the old cliché of taking steps forward each game – it's the exact approach that the Jaguars' first-year head coach believes will ultimately lead his team to its desired results.
"I think getting better is a cliché. But I think really that's what we hold on to," Bradley told the Denver media during a conference call on Wednesday. "We're just looking for improvement in each of our position groups and as a unit. We feel like, if we keep improving, then we just trust the results will come. I think our players have really bought into that."
"We're playing with good effort, we're playing with spirit. You're seeing those things on the field."
That effort was evident in Jacksonville's 34-20 loss to the Rams last Sunday. The winless Jaguars recorded their highest scoring output of the season, and Jacksonville only trailed by a touchdown after quarterback Chad Henne's 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cecil Shorts III with 10:22 to play, before the team ultimately ceded a late Rams touchdown.
The Jaguars outgained the Rams 363-351, and the team's competitiveness echoed Bradley's emphasis upon improvement week-in and week-out. And while the team has weathered its share of difficult times during its 0-5 start, running back Maurice Jones-Drew pointed out that the experiences with handling adversity are valuable learning opportunities, especially for a team with so much young talent on its roster.
"In order to be successful in your life or anything you have to go through some trying times and that's what we're going through right now," Jones-Drew said. "You have to teach guys how to take the good with the bad - how to understand how to get better each week and make sure that you're putting in the proper time so that you can have the opportunity like the greats that are in this league right now. That's kind of how I've taken it."
It's the same positive mentality that Bradley noted keeps the Jaguars from concerning themselves about being sizable underdogs to a Broncos team that is averaging an NFL-best 46.0 points per game.
"We try not to get too caught up in that," Bradley said. "We started back in the spring with changing the whole culture of our organization and our team. And our emphasis is on that every opportunity we get, we're striving to get better and build on what we've already accomplished. So this just creates another opportunity for us to do that."
Defending an offense that Bradley said is "playing at the highest level of anybody in the league" is part of that opportunity – and Bradley paid no shortage of compliments to quarterback Peyton Manning, who threw four touchdowns in the Broncos' 51-48 win over the Cowboys, bringing his league-leading total to 20.
"He's unbelievable, unbelievable. I mean we could go on and on – his poise, his command of the offense," Bradley said. "You see so many teams trying to do so many different things against them. You can just tell on film, you're not fooling him."
"I thought I got rid of him when (the Colts) let him go but it seems like he likes to pop up on us every now and then," Jones-Drew added. "He looks phenomenal right now."
Bradley also pointed out that running back Knowshon Moreno – who recorded 150 total yards against the Cowboys and has rushed for 331 yards and four touchdowns on the season – is another dangerous facet to the Denver offense.
"You can really see that he's really catching fire," Bradley said. "You'd like to make a team, most teams one-dimensional. Now, with Denver the way their playing and the ability to run the ball – it just makes it that much harder to defend."
On the subject of his own offense, Bradley noted that Henne looks to be the starter at quarterback as Blaine Gabbert's injury continues to heal.
"Right now Chad Henne is going to be the quarterback," he said.
Henne will be backed by a slew of talented, young players who are hungry to improve and face new challenges each week.
"We have spirited guys that really look forward to the challenge," Bradley said. "Some of that comes from our youth with guys like (S) Johnathan Cyprien and (WR/PR) Ace Sanders and some of our younger players. They truly are excited and I think that spreads through the locker room. And we have enough veterans that I think bring the leadership to help guide those guys."
One of those veteran leaders is linebacker Paul Posluszny, who has led the Jaguars in tackles in each of the past two seasons – his 47 tackles in 2013 tie him for sixth in the NFL.
"I think our guys look up to him. You're hearing him be more vocal now and I think he finds that is his role with some of our younger players," Bradley said. "They'll go operate on their own, but you can see when there is difficulty or questions, they all gravitate to him. He's really done a nice job under that role."
A three-time All-Pro, Jones-Drew has also embraced setting a strong example for the younger players on his team – and that emphasis upon growth and development is a mentality he believes will ultimately push the Jaguars in the right direction.
"Now being an older guy and learning through some older veterans and some older coaches, it's just a certain way you go about it and you have to teach younger guys to be professionals because we are going to be good here," he said. "We just have a lot of young guys right now playing and we have to get healthy and we feel like once we're healthy we'll be able to do some good things."