Gus Bradley, the newly hired defensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders, has initially demanded three "non-negotiables" of his new defense in the desert – to be fast, physical, and find a way to get the ball.
The Silver and Black publicly announced the hiring of Gus Bradley for their vacant defensive coordinator position Tuesday morning. The decision, coming a week after the Raiders' 2020 season finale, isn't entirely surprising considering Bradley's 15-year track record of coaching experience.
Bradley, who is most notable for his stint with the Seattle Seahawks, has plenty of experience building young defenses from the ground up. He's coached the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks to top-five defenses and numerous playoff appearances with him as coordinator, and he also has head coaching experience with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he developed an exceptional defense behind Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey. The Jaguars would make it to the AFC Championship game the year after he left to coach for the Chargers. Bradley has also had the opportunity to coach everyone from Hall of Fame players such as Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks to perennial Pro Bowlers Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Melvin Ingram.
The move to Las Vegas to coach under Jon Gruden brings Bradley's coaching career full circle to a degree, as Gruden is the same man that hired him from North Dakota State in 2006 to be the defensive quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"Well, it all started, obviously Coach Gruden and I have had experience together when we were together at Tampa. I was fortunate that he hired me from North Dakota State," said Gus Bradley during his introductory press conference as a Raider. "We stayed in contact when we'd see each other at the combine, but what I was really impressed with was when I came in here to interview, it was just the vision that Coach had.
"To hear Jon Gruden's vision, [General Manager] Mike Mayock's vision, it was something that was very good for me to hear and to see just how they are so closely related. It was just a very, very positive experience."
Coach Gruden, impressed with Bradley since their time in Tampa together, feels that Bradley is capable of bringing his vision to light.
"He's a great teacher, very passionate," Coach Gruden told ESPN. "Love the way his defenses compete and the way he uses his personnel."
Bradley will have a lot of things he'll want to implement into this young Raiders defense, including continuing to build up the defensive line led by Maxx Crosby, who's paced the team in sacks the past two seasons, and Clelin Ferrell, who also improved in his sophomore season.
"I know really where it all starts is up front. I think that's first and foremost – to get things right up front and then fill it in everywhere else," said Bradley. "There's things that we do that we feel strongly about, and it's really based on fundamentals. Things like communication, fundamentals, tackling, get-off up front with the defensive line."
Another huge task that Bradley wants to bring to the Raiders is creating more turnovers to give the Raiders' dynamic offense more opportunities to score. The Raiders generated 15 turnovers this season, the third lowest in the NFL.
"I've been part of defenses where you've done really well in getting takeaways and then the next year you emphasize the same things, and you're not quite as productive. It comes down to making sure the calls give players the opportunity to get the ball out. Then there's the mindset to go get the ball and not miss any opportunities. These are things that we preach every week, every day in practice. Every rep is about tackling. Every rep is about getting the ball. It's that kind of the mindset that we're trying to develop with the players."
Even when he was with the Chargers he could feel the energy on Al Davis Way at the Raiders new home. Bradley feels it's only a matter of time before that energy with this young, promising defense is showcased in the upcoming season.
"There's a long history of having great respect for the Raiders organization and the tradition. The fans, the history, iconic organization that's known all over. So, to be a part of that, and obviously winning is extremely important, and as a coach to come into a situation where winning is that important, that's all you can hope for."
"Then the Vegas part of it. You hear so many good things. It really is. When you talk to coaches that are here, there's not one negative thing. It's all positive. We could feel it, even when I was a part of the Chargers, driving up to the stadium, to see where the stadium is located and there's fans outside in the parking lot even though they couldn't go in the building. It's just something I think we're all very excited about. The people here have been outstanding, and I'm really looking forward to the first day."
Take a look at photos of the Las Vegas Raiders new defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley.