Coaching Buzz: Getting To Know Gus Bradley

With Chip Kelly returning to Oregon and Bill O’Brien headed back to Penn State, the Eagles are expected to take a look at several assistants from the NFL ranks this week.

One of those guys is Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Seattle’s defense held a hobbled Robert Griffin III and the Redskins to 14 points in Sunday’s victory. During the regular season, the Seahawks finished first in scoring defense (15.3 PPG) and fourth in Football Outsiders’ rankings.

Bradley’s been Seattle’s defensive coordinator for four seasons. Here’s a look at how his unit has stacked up:

 
Scoring Defense
Total Defense (Yards)
Football Outsiders (DVOA)
200925th24th29th
201025th27th29th
20117th9th10th
20121st4th4th

Prior to landing in Seattle, Bradley spent three seasons working under Monte Kiffin in Tampa – two as linebackers coach (2007-2008) and one as quality control coach (2006). The 46-year-old was the assistant head coach at his alma mater, North Dakota State, from 2000 to 2005.

Impressing Kiffin has undoubtedly helped him make the steady rise up the NFL ranks. Here’s what Jim L. Mora said about hiring Bradley as the Seahawks defensive coordinator in 2009, per the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

“Monte [Kiffin] says, ‘J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of, if not, the finest football coaches I have ever worked with. He’s an A-plus. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime coach. You need to talk to him,’ ” Mora recalled.

“He said, ‘J.L., this guy is special. You have to bring him in. You have to talk to him.’ “

According to ESPN.com, Mora originally planned to hire a different defensive coordinator, but Bradley won him over during the interview process and got the job.

A year later, the Seahawks fired Mora and brought in Pete Carroll. Bradley went through a similar process. Kiffin talked to Carroll. Bradley got an interview. And now Carroll speaks glowingly of his defensive coordinator. From The Seattle Times:

“He’s the best teacher I’ve ever been around,” Carroll said. “He’s so thorough, so thoughtful, and he’ll go to such lengths to find ways to make sense of the information so the guys can understand it in practical ways.

“It doesn’t matter how good we teach. It’s how well they learn. I think that connection is really clear with Gus. He’s great at it.”

That’s what I’d call a ringing endorsement.

So, what is Bradley’s personality like? Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times called him “the nicest man ever to lead a pack of cutthroats.” He added that Bradley’s “blood type is sunshine.”

But there’s another side too. Head to the 2:01 mark of the following video where Bradley was mic’d up (hat tip to Brian Solomon for the link).

There are obviously two sides to Bradley, which can be a good thing.

The ability to motivate and to adapt to personnel are both key for a head coach. Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor seems to indicate Bradley has both those qualities.

“Other teams can try to figure it out or copy it, but the secret is that it’s built around the players,” Chancellor said of the Seahawks’ defense, per The Seattle Times. “That’s what makes us unique. You can’t create players exactly like the ones we have. And not everyone has that dog in them like we do. We’re hungry. You can’t imagine how well we work together, how much we bond, how bad we want it.”

So what are the question marks with Bradley? It’s tough to gauge how much of the Seahawks’ success on defense is due to Carroll, their defensive-minded head coach. And Bradley’s only head-coaching experience came during a four-month stint at Fort Lewis College in 1995-1996.

But if Jeffrey Lurie is looking for an up-and-comer, Bradley could fit the bill. He’s expected to interview some time this week.

For a full list of coaching interviews, check out our tracker.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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