Bradley's pedigree makes him attractive option

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Bradley's pedigree makes him attractive option
January 8, 2013, 6:20 am
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It was a surprise to see Gus Bradleys name appear on the list of potential Eagles head coaches. Not because Bradley isnt qualified but because we didnt know Jeffrey Lurie was considering coaches with a defensive background.Like most people, Lurie believes the NFL today is all about offense and scoring points. That was one of the things that attracted him to Andy Reid and led him to choose Reid over Jim Haslett as his coach in 1999. Haslett was a defensive coach and Lurie saw the game moving toward offense, so he hired the guy with the offensive pedigree.I still think Lurie believe that and he is not wrong. If you look at the way the rules are written and how the game is officiated -- almost any contact draws a penalty flag -- the game is geared toward the forward pass, big plays and high scores.Following that logic, we felt Lurie would be looking for another offensive coach; hence the talks with Chip Kelly and Mike McCoy. The Eagles did speak with Mike Nolan, the defensive coordinator in Atlanta, but he never seemed like a serious candidate. Nolan is a recycled head coach and Lurie never has gone that route.But Gus Bradley? That is interesting.Bradley is defensive coordinator in Seattle and if youve seen the Seahawks' defense, you know how good it is. If Lurie really is open to the possibility of hiring a defensive coach, Bradley would be a very good choice.At 46, he is a young guy with great energy and passion. If you dont believe it, check out his video on YouTube. He broke into the NFL as a linebackers coach in Tampa Bay, which means he learned his trade from defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, one of the best.His numbers are impressive. The Seahawks allowed the fewest points in the league this season (15 points per game). They ranked in the top seven in eight different defensive categories, including yards allowed (fourth). They intercepted 40 passes in the last two seasons. The Eagles, you may recall, went through half of this season without a single interception.The farther Seattle goes in the postseason, the more attention Bradley will receive. He deserves credit for making the adjustments Sunday that allowed Seattle to shut down the Washington offense after the first quarter and rally for a 24-14 win in the wild-card game. The Redskins managed only 63 yards total offense in the second half.It wasnt that long ago the Seattle defense was a disaster. The Seahawks allowed the most passing yards in 2008 and third most in 2009. This season, their pass defense ranked fifth in the NFL. In three seasons, Bradley has cut the number of 30-yard pass plays allowed in half (24 to 12) and slashed the opponents passer efficiency rating by more than 20 points (93.4 to 71.8).Bradley is a good motivator who gets the maximum out of his players. Chris Clemons didnt do much in his time with the Eagles but he became one of the leagues better pass rushers (11 sacks this season) under Bradley.Bradley gets results with young players. He plugged in rookie Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker this season and Wagner led the team in tackles. He turned Bruce Irvin, a first-round pick most draftniks panned, into a productive pass rusher (eight sacks). With the number of young players the Eagles have on defense, thats a good trait to have.Bradleys approach to defense would be a change from what the Eagles have been in recent years. He likes big, physical players. He has the hardest-hitting secondary in the league with cornerbacks Richard Sherman (6-3, 195) and Brandon Browner (6-4, 220) and safeties Earl Thomas (5-10, 205) and Kam Chancellor (6-3, 230). They have justly earned the nickname The Legion of Boom.It could be argued the Eagles have more work to do in rebuilding their defense than the offense. They certainly need to put more toughness in the defense. The fans that are fed up with watching defensive backs wave at ball carriers as they pass by would be thrilled with a coach who changed the Eagles' identity from passive to punishing.Regarding the argument that an offensive coach is best equipped to win in todays NFL, consider that three of the winningest head coaches -- Bill Belichick (New England), Mike Smith (Atlanta) and John Fox (Denver) -- were all defensive coordinators at one time. So it can work that way. You just have to find the right guy.Gus Bradley? I didnt expect him to appear on the Eagles radar, but now that he is there, well, he is worth a good, long look.
E-mail Ray Didinger at viewfromthehall@comcast.net.

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