According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will return in his same role under new head coach Shane Steichen:
Gus Bradley will remain with the #Colts as defensive coordinator for new head coach Shane Steichen, per sources. This has been the expectation league wide as teams filled jobs. Colts keep continuity on the defensive side of the ball.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 27, 2023
Many of the Colts’ top head coaching candidates were interested in retaining Bradley, who the Colts reportedly blocked from laterally interviewing elsewhere in the interim period before Steichen was hired and ultimately approved keeping the veteran defensive coordinator.
Steichen and the 56 year old Bradley had previously worked together as coordinators for the Los Angeles Chargers (2017-20), so the pair is already familiar with one another.
Bradley’s defense was actually a pretty solid unit last season, ranking 14th overall by Football Outsiders in team defensive DVOA. The problem is, the defense was on the field for entirely too long of stretches and placed in inopportune starting field position because of the offense’s general ineptitude. The latter should improve under the offensive minded Steichen’s tutelage and some positional upgrades—namely at starting quarterback.
Defensively, the Colts will be faced with some tough decisions such as whether to retain key free agents: starting pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, linebacker Bobby Okereke, and safety Rodney McLeod, as well as the overall uncertainty of whether All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard can regain his superstar form returning from a corrective season-ending back surgery. The Maniac being fully healthy would be a big boost to Bradley’s 2023 unit and collective playmaking potential.