Colts Make Final Decision on Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley: Report

Gus Bradley

Getty The Indianapolis Colts have made their final decision about whether Gus Bradley will remain the team's defensive coordinator in 2023.

The Indianapolis Colts will apparently be keeping at least one part of their team the same in 2023.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on February 27 that defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will stay as the team’s defensive coordinator under new head coach Shane Steichen.

“Gus Bradley will remain with the Colts as defensive coordinator for new head coach Shane Steichen, per sources,” Fowler wrote on Twitter. “This has been the expectation league wide as teams filled jobs.

“Colts keep continuity on the defensive side of the ball.”

While it was the league’s expectation Bradley would return, during his introductory press conference, Steichen declined to answer whether Bradley would stay in his role.

The Colts also lost special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone to the Cleveland Browns on February 23.

Colts Keep Bradley as Defensive Coordinator

It’s not surprising the Colts preferred to keep Bradley for 2023.

Although the team only won four games, Bradley experienced a solid season during his first year as Indianapolis defensive coordinator. While the Colts finished 30th in points allowed, Bradley’s unit was 16th in total defense, including 12th against the pass.

The Colts were also 11th in yards yielded per play. Furthermore, they were ranked higher in defensive categories early in the season before it became obvious the team was not going to make the postseason.

The Indianapolis offense also hurt the Colts defensive rankings. The team’s offense had 6 more giveaways than any other team, which constantly put the defense in terrible field position situations.

The one area where Bradley will want to improve upon is takeaways. The Colts went from second in takeaways during 2021 under former defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to 19th with Bradley in 2022.

Indianapolis’ defense had just 10 interceptions last season. Only five teams had fewer in the NFL.

Getting linebacker Shaquille Leonard back healthy should help the Colts generate more big plays on defense. A 3-time first-team All-Pro, Leonard had offseason back surgery last year, missed most of the season and was never 100% when on the field.

Colts to Keep Entire Defensive Staff?

The team has yet to make Bradley’s return official, so there is also no official word on the other defensive assistants. But in all likelihood, most of Bradley’s staff, if not all of it, will return as well.

“This was always the expectation, as several candidates told Colts’ brass they wanted to keep Bradley and his assistants in place,” The Athletic’s Zak Keefer wrote on Twitter.

While there are certainly improvements the team can make defensively, keeping some continuity should be a sight for sore eyes for the Colts organization.

Owner Jim Irsay did elect to keep general manager Chris Ballard, but the Colts hired Shane Steichen to be the team’s third head coach in a year’s time. The Colts will also have another new play-caller and offensive coordinator.

That doesn’t even mention the changes behind center Indianapolis has gone through in recent years. Since 2018, a different quarterback has started Week 1 for the Colts every year, and that will very likely be the case again in 2023.

Keeping Bradley and his staff will give the Colts something to build on from 2022, at least defensively.

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