Raiders hire Gus Bradley as Defensive Coordinator
April 22, 2021
With the recent firing of Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, the Las Vegas Raiders have swooped and hired Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to do the same job with the Raiders. Bradley has been the defensive coordinator for the past four seasons for Lynn and in that period, the Chargers have been one of the better defensive units in the NFL.
The Raiders have struggled under head coach Jon Gruden over the past three seasons, ranking 30th in scoring defense in 2020, 24th in scoring defense in 2019 and 32nd or last in scoring defense in 2018. The Raiders allowed a franchise record 478 points in 2020. With the Chargers, Bradley had a top ten defense in yards allowed for the past three seasons and top ten defense in points allowed in 2017 and 2018.
Gruden said at a season ending press conference that he preferred to stay in a 4-3 defense. “We would like to be a 4-3 outfit,” Gruden said. “Don’t get me wrong, we’d like to have some three-down elements and be multiple. But we want to play four bigs if we can.” Bradley also prefers a 4-3 defense with a preference for a Cover 3 zone defense, which is a three-deep, four-under zone defense.
With the Chargers, Bradley did not like to blitz and with edge rushers like Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, he could usually get away with it. This past season, Ingram missed nine games to injury and failed to get sack the entire season. Bosa had 7.5 sacks in 12 games, missing four games to injuries. In 2017, Ingram and Bosa combined for 23 sacks. In 2019, the pair combined for 18.5 sacks.
Because of these injuries, the Chargers struggled to put together a consistent pass rush. The fact that Bradley does not like to blitz did not sit well with Charger fans and at times, with Lynn. The Raiders also struggled with pass pressure. The Raiders had 21 sacks in 16 games in 2020 and the Chargers 27 sacks. As a comparison, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the NFL in sacks with 56 and the Los Angeles Rams were second with 53 sacks.
The immediate danger to the Chargers is that the move could cost the Chargers coaching and player personnel. Bradley has already acted quickly on the coaching front, bringing linebackers coach Richard Smith and secondary coach Ron Milus with him to the Raiders from the Chargers. Smith had been the Chargers linebackers’ coach for the past four seasons, while Milus had been with the Chargers the past eight seasons.
Ingram is among eight Charger defensive players that are unrestricted free agents and could follow Bradley to the Raiders. Ingram made $14 million in the last year of his contract and at 32 years of age, the Chargers may not want to or be able to pay Ingram the kind of money he could make elsewhere. The Raiders are a team that needs defensive leadership and Ingram would help. Bradley is looking forward to his new gig with the Raiders.
“I think there are pieces in place there. But to give you a fair assessment, I’d really like to have a chance to really watch the film because sometimes in a system they’re going to play differently,” Bradley said. “But I am excited. I know there is a hungry group of guys and they want to get better. I think the style that you should see is a team that plays with great effort, great enthusiasm, great toughness, and a defense that plays smart. We’re going to be very multiple, but not at the expense that we don’t play fast.”