It’s a new era for the Las Vegas Raiders‘ defense. Gone is defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and in is Gus Bradley. The former Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator has a track record of success that started with helping to develop the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom.” While he’s not going to have that level of talent to work with, he could be the kind of coach the Raiders need to turn their defense around.
Bradley got his NFL start back in 2006 when he was hired by Jon Gruden as the Tampa Bay Buccanneers linebackers coach. When he got that job, he had to win over Hall of Famer linebacker Derrick Brooks, who was the leader of the defense. Brooks has=d a chance to talk about Bradley and believes he was a good pickup for the Raiders.
“Coach Gru, man … ,” Brooks said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “Man, he is something, I wouldn’t say ‘skeptical.’ I talk to Coach Gru a lot and I am happy that a bunch of the coaches that worked with him in the past when he was successful in Tampa are now on his staff in Las Vegas. Coach Bradley, (defensive line coach) Rod Marinelli, (special teams coach) Rich Bisaccia …
“Most people may think they are trying to recreate the magic, but I just think it’s a testament to successful people growing up together in the league and wanting to do it again because it works. The hiring of Gus will really tighten up the chemistry on their staff, with Rod still being there as well.”
Brooks definitely knows Gruden, Marinelli and Bradley well. If he believes the hiring will help “tighten up chemistry,” there’s no reason to believes he’s wrong about that.
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Bradley Describes What He Wants From Raiders Defense
Bradley is going to have his work cut out for him in Las Vegas. He doesn’t exactly have players like Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram or Derwin James to work with. Taking over the Raiders’ defense might be the toughest task he’s had yet.
“We have to become a strong unit, and that’s made up of trust, the willingness to sacrifice and effort,” Bradley said. “The preparation that it all takes, and the strong, pro-mentality players that we have need to lead the others that need some help in that area. We have to have one mindset collectively, to play fast, physical and get the ball out — and all just have to prick our finger to it and believe in it and start building something special.”
There’s been a lot of coaches who have come and tried to fix this defense but have failed. Bradley has been successful but the team needs to set him up for success. It’s time to start investing more money and draft picks on that side of the field.
Brooks Credits Bradley’s Work Ethic
If Bradley fails to fix the Raiders’ defense, it won’t due to a lack of effort. During his time in Tampa Bay, Brooks appreciated the amount of work Bradley would put in every day.
“It wasn’t what he said, but what he did,” Brooks said. “The day-to-day interaction and the work ethic that he took to make sure that we were the most prepared group on our team, and the fact that he trusted us with information and took our input to the other defensive coaches. It was the teaching aspect and the loyalty, and how it was important for him to show that appreciation for us.
“We just wanted to reciprocate that effort and loyalty and give it back to him on a daily basis.”
It’s going to take a lot of work to fix the defensive mess the Raiders have created. Luckily, they were able to bring in a “Gruden Grinder.”