He's relatively young (46)… and he's a guy who will get in your face to challenge you to do better… and he's got proven NFL experience, so he knows today's players and how to relate to them.
It all adds up for me with Gus Bradley.
Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Dick Smolenski interviewed Bradley on Saturday down in Atlanta.
As Nick Fierro of the Allentown Morning Call summed up:
"Bradley, who has lifted and then fine-tuned the Seattle Seahawks' defense to a championship-caliber level, will be doing the same for some other franchise next season. Might as well be the Eagles, who could use a defensive overhaul conducted by a coach with proven methods and results in this league. In case you hadn't noticed, Seattle's defense has been killing it. It has allowed fewer points than any other in the NFL this season. That's been good enough to land the Hawks in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons this weekend."
Better yet, he has earned the respect of players and coaches alike.
If you check out the You-Tube audio clips on Bradley, you will be somewhat amazed by his fire-and-brimstone approaches to team meetings… Maybe that's exactly what the Eagles need, a little "Traveling Medicine Show" enthusiasm as a contrast to the Reid era of "putting people in a better position"…
Keep the Cup. Don't allow big plays. Keep everything bottled up. Don't let it spill. If it doesn't spill, it gives you a chance to drink it.
That's Gus Bradley's defensive philosophy. It's similar to that of his mentor, Monte Kiffin. Don't make big mistakes. Do everything in unison. Keep the water in the cup. Give yourself a chance to defend it again. And again and again and again.
It's worked for Bradley in Seattle. He brings the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense into Sunday's divisional playoff game in Atlanta. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll recently called him "a brilliant football mind."
Two of Bradley's biggest supporters are Kiffin and future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, whom he coached in Tampa Bay.
Kiffin helped Bradley get hired in Seattle. He told Jim Mora, the head coach at the time, "J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of 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.
Derrick Brooks speaks similarly of his former linebackers coach. The two still talk often. He uses words like humble, hard-working and loyal to describe his former coach and friend.
"I would definitely endorse him if someone asked me to do that," said Brooks, now team president of the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm. "I just knew as my position coach that in this league, he was going to move up. Whether that means coordinator, head coach, I just knew him staying in this position as a linebackers coach, he's going to outgrow it. That's the same way I felt about Coach Lovie Smith."
Lovie Smith, who interviewed with the Eagles on Thursday, also came up through the Tampa system as a linebackers coach. The biggest difference is that Smith, 54, has had his chance to lead a team. He was the head coach of the Chicago Bears for the past nine seasons. Bradley, 46, is looking for his first head coaching job.
Much like Smith— and unlike Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who interviewed for the Eagles position earlier this week as well, and in late-breaking news has blown us off to go back to Notre Dame— Bradley isn't a get-in-your-face disciplinarian. Sure he'll yell, scream and curse plenty, but usually when he's at his most vocal, it's for encouragement, not disparagement.
Bradley came to the NFL in 2006 as a defensive quality control coach from North Dakota State. It didn't take long for him to earn the respect of the Bucs players. Brooks remembers going to Bradley regularly on the upcoming opponent whom he had scouted. Bradley wouldn't just provide the information. He taught it as well.
When Bradley was promoted to linebackers coach the following year, he constantly peppered Brooks with questions. What made him great? How did he prepare? What was he thinking? It proved Bradley wasn't a know-it-all coach, and earned the players' respect rather quickly as a result.
"One thing I appreciated is that he listened," Brooks said. "And by 'listened' I don't mean he did everything I said. But the fact that we had open lines of communication, that he sought my opinion in determining the decision, was critical. I appreciated his personality that he would listen."
That's not to be taken lightly. At the time, Bradley was a young coach from a small school, only seven years older than his star pupil. He needed to be impressive to command the attention of a group filled with strong and already successful veterans.
Maybe most impressive with Bradley has been his ability to adjust. This should help in his meeting with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman, who are looking for a flexible and innovative coach. Bradley's current defense in Seattle may resemble the Cover-2 or Tampa-2 system he learned in Tampa, but it has its own look and feel. Now, it's Gus Bradley's defense.
"They play a lot more mixed fronts than we did in Tampa," Brooks said. "We were pretty much over-under four-man fronts. With Gus they jump into a lot of different fronts. A lot of five-man fronts, 4-5-man, so you see his fingerprints on that. We ran a lot of basic coverages, they run a lot of mixed coverages."
The results have been similar. Just like the 2000-2007 Bucs, the Seahawks have a dominant defense. With Bradley as their coach, they've been able to "keep the cup".
And, now, according to Brooks, it's apparent that Gus Bradley is ready to not just lead the linebackers or the entire defense. It's his time to lead a team.
"Since his time in Seattle, you can see it," Brooks said. "Just the conversations, they're more of leadership conversations. … I think he's definitely ready to lead a football team."
I want Gus Bradley. And I want Lovie Smith as his defensive coordinator. This combo would be a great outcome for the Eagles in my opinion.
There. I said it. Okay, I'm done.