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INDIANAPOLIS The Colts have turned to experience and a defense they’ve had an affinity for with their new defense coordinator hire.

It will be Gus Bradley and his decade long run of coordinating NFL defenses (along with a 4-year head coaching stint of the Jaguars from 2013-16) running the show in Indy.

Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star first reported the news.

Unlike the hiring of Matt Eberflus back in 2018, this hire brings some different aspects to what’s already established on that side of the ball.

The four-man front Indy has heavily relied on isn’t going anywhere. But Bradley will bring a few more looks to the back end of the defense. And Bradley has vastly more experience leading a defense compared to what Eberflus brought when hired in 2018.

Expect some more Cover 3 looks from the Indianapolis secondary, with a propensity of utilizing more safeties in that look. Bradley’s defensive background is not on the Tampa 2 tree that Eberflus hailed from.

Schematically, Bradley isn’t known for being super unpredictable.

Lately, his defenses have done a decent job against the pass, despite having a quieter pass rush. But that’s mostly been from a coverage standpoint.

It should be noted that despite having Pro Bowl type defensive line talent in Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the recent sack/pressure rates for Bradley defenses have been average, to below average. Blitzing has not been a staple of Bradley’s pedigree.

The Colts have to increase that, and internal development of their young draft picks is a must for Bradley and his defense.

Disrupting the passing part of the game at a higher rate will be the most important key to Bradley’s tenure here in Indy. If the Colts had a specific focus on solving their pass rush puzzle with this hire, Bradley’s recent track record doesn’t show much in that area.

In the turnover department, Bradley defenses have recently struggled to produce a high number of takeaways. The belief in Indy though is that Darius Leonard will continue to lead that aspect to the defense.

Even without a vaunted pass rush and standout turnover numbers, Bradley’s defenses have still ranked pretty well in the scoring department.

Bradley, 55, is known for his ability to connect with his players and that goes back to his early days in the NFL, leading a talented and personality-filled Seattle defense.

The Colts and Chris Ballard have always loved those Seattle days of how that Legion of Boom was built. Bradly coordinated it from 2009-12. Ed Dodds’ connection from his days in Seattle.

When drafting players in the past, Ballard has often mentioned those older Seattle defenses as something the Colts would love to emulate.

This hire is one rooted in a continued focus on leadership/communication/experience with some new ideas defensively.

Will it lead to a jump the Colts need in creating a January-type unit?

 

Gus Bradley (Age: 55)

Resume: 

2021: Defensive Coordinator, Las Vegas Raiders:

2017-20: Defensive Coordinator, Los Angeles Chargers

2013-16: Head Coach, Jacksonville Jaguars

2009-12: Defensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

2006-08: Linebackers Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1996-2005: Defensive Coordinator, North Dakota State

1992-95: Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Fort Lewis College

1990-91: Graduate Assistant, North Dakota State

 

League rankings (total defense, rushing yards, pass yards, sacks, scoring) for Bradley’s coordinated defenses:

2021 (Raiders): 14/19/13/23/26

2020 (Chargers): 10/16/11/23/10

2019 (Chargers): 6/15/20/23/14

2018 (Chargers): 9/12/11/22/8

2017 (Chargers): 15/32/4/5/3

2012 (Seahawks): 4/23/4/18/1

2011 (Seahawks): 9/4/12/23/7

2010 (Seahawks): 27/15/25/16/25

2009 (Seahawks): 24/13/24/29/25