According to the IndyStar’s Joel A. Erickson, the Indianapolis Colts are indeed hiring former Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley for the same role—after it was rumored earlier on Friday afternoon:
The Colts are hiring Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator.— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) February 4, 2022
Regarding Bradley, who the Colts reportedly interviewed earlier this week:
“[T]here’s 55 year old Gus Bradley, who’s the former defensive coordinator of the Las Vegas Raiders (2021-Present) and had previously served as the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers (2017-20), Jacksonville Jaguars head coach (2013-16), Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator (2009-12), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach (2006-08).
He largely runs a ‘Cover 3’, 4-3 defense that he became notorious for when coaching the early days of the Seahawks’ eventual Super Bowl winning ‘Legion of Boom’ defensively.”
Given their latest batch of defensive coordinator candidates, it was clear the Colts wanted to continue running a Cover 2 or Cover 3 defensive derivative scheme, which fits their current defensive personnel—including some of the unit’s best players such as Pro Bowlers Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner, and Kenny Moore.
Too significant of a defensive scheme change could’ve required a drastic overhaul of the team’s defensive roster, which never made sense.
While the Colts could make some adjustments under Bradley—namely being a bit more dynamic at times with creative pass pressure packages (utilizing an edge rusher like the ‘Leo’) and tightening the allotted coverage cushion along the outside, it was still a defense that finished 7th best overall defensively in weighted DVOA on the 2021 season under departed defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ largely Cover 2/Cover 3 based scheme.
For what it’s worth, the Raiders finished 16th defensively in weighted DVOA this past season, but unlike the Colts, the unit lacked ‘horses’, star thoroughbred defensive players throughout his defense (although his edge rushers were very good)—as Bradley was said to have done a good job coaching in 2021, even given the limited talent collectively:
LVR defense played much better than their final numbers looked imo. The simplicity of the system helped to unlock some players but there was a ceiling to running so much cover 3.— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) February 4, 2022
Still, I thought he did a good job overall.
There’s a strong pool of DCs to replace him this year. https://t.co/ugJwfd6INR
#Raiders improved from 28th to 17th defensively per @fboutiders DVOA this season under Gus Bradley. That was their 3rd best ranking in past 15 seasons behind only 16th in 2015 and 14th in 2010— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) February 4, 2022
The saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and while there’s certainly some room for some small tweaks and slight improvement, Bradley’s arrival simply makes sense to continue progressing the defense forward (without too much unnecessary change fundamentally).
Especially if he can replicate some of the success the Seahawks had with the ‘Legion of Boom’, who later had a Super Bowl ring to show for it.