So, Gus Bradley is gone. Jacksonville hired him to be their head coach. On the one hand, I guess it’s a good move for him. If your goal all along has been to be an NFL head coach, then hey! He achieved his goal!
But, I mean, just LOOK at that franchise! They’re a complete disaster! Blaine Gabbert is about as far from an elite quarterback as it gets. Their best player, MJD, is over the hill and falling fast. In 2012, their offense was the 4th-worst, their defense was 3rd-worst, and fan interest is at an all-time low. The best thing they have going for them is they draft #2 overall this April. Of course, even that’s kind of a shitty deal, because there’s no RGIII coming out in this draft.
Which leads to the ultimate question: is it better to hold out, stick with your coordinating job on an elite team, and bide your time until the right job offer comes along? Or, is it better to jump while the iron’s hot, because NFL head coaching vacancies are so rare?
I suppose it’s a nice problem to have. You have to consider the fact that it’s very possible that the Seahawks’ defense could decline, if injuries take hold or players regress. You also have to consider: if you turn around a fledgling franchise, you’ve essentially got job security for life. But, how often does THAT happen? More often than not, even the greatest head coaches have a blemish on their record. Belichick has his Cleveland stint. Carroll has his Jets debacle. Marv Levy had a mediocre stint with the Chiefs. And that’s not counting all the countless head coaches who found second jobs yet never managed to turn their careers around EVER.
This is all prelude to the ultimate argument: how important are coaches? Let’s face it, you can be a genius. You can have a brand-new offensive or defensive scheme that takes the league by storm. But, if you don’t have the talent to execute those schemes, your team isn’t going anywhere.
Gus Bradley’s career is riddled with jobs at low-level colleges. Yes, he once ascended to be a head coach at that level, but that’s not really saying a whole lot. In the NFL, before he came to be the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2009, the highest he ever got to be was Linebackers Coach under Monte Kiffin in Tampa. In 2009, with an absolute joke of a team, Bradley led the defense to a 24th-ranking in yards per game allowed and 25th-ranking in points per game. In 2010, the defense was even worse (27th in yards, 25th in points). Finally, in 2011, once the majority of the turnover was complete, he turned the defense around (9th in yards, 7th in points). And, in 2012, he enjoyed coaching one of the most talented defenses in football (4th in yards, 1st in points).
So, he struck while the iron was hot. And, since he’s apparently such a great interview, he got himself a job after only 4 years’ worth of NFL coordinating. And only TWO years’ worth of quality results!
But, you have to admit, his performance as a coordinator sure did synch up with the influx of raw, improved talent.
I would argue that if you’re reasonably smart and dedicated to your job, you can coordinate the hell out of a defense like Seattle’s. How hard is it to watch tape on your opponent, set up a game plan, call plays during the game, and make adjustments accordingly (depending on how different they look at the onset of the game, or how they adjust to your initial gameplan)? That’s essentially all you need out of a coordinator. Develop the right scheme for your personnel, adjust to what the offense is giving you, and let your players make plays.
I mean, what was the last huge innovation in defensive coordinating? The Tampa Two? Yeah, that’s been around like forever. Before that, what was it? Dick LeBeau’s Zone Blitz? Buddy Ryan’s 46 Defense with the Chicago Bears in the mid-80s?
It’s not like offense. Offense is continually changing, evolving. Defense is mostly just reacting. But, essentially it’s the same. Good defenses have good players. You can’t just magically create a good defense out of stiffs!
I would argue Offensive Coordinators are vastly more important. I would also argue that we could do a lot better than Darrell Bevell, but for the sake of maintaining SOME kind of continuity, I guess I’m okay with him getting a pay raise and sticking around for a while.
But, losing a guy like Gus Bradley is just the price you pay. Same with this Idzik guy from our front office. Good teams get poached from ALL THE TIME. As long as we’ve got John Schneider running the show from a talent evaluation standpoint, I think we’ll be in good shape. Next man up, and all of that nonsense.
Dan Quinn returns to replace Bradley. For those not in the know, Quinn was our Defensive Line coach and an Associate Head Coach in 2009 under Mora. He stuck around in 2010 under Carroll, but then left to be the Defensive Coordinator of the Florida Gators from 2011-2012. In 2012, the Gators were 5th in points allowed per game with 14.5. So, he’s got SOME experience as a coordinator, at a very high level in college, and he’s familiar with the workings in the NFL (and the Seattle Seahawks). It’s a natural fit, and I don’t anticipate missing a beat.
I don’t know how his style differs from Bradley’s, but I would assume not that much. He’s been a Defensive Line coach for pretty much forever, so hopefully some of that experience will help inprove what’s a huge need for this team. Hopefully too that’ll mean he’s familiar-enough with some of the D-Line talent coming out of college. At the very least, he should have a type of D-lineman in mind (a la Tom Cable and his needs for the O-Line), in the event that we’re not able to draft the cream of the crop. Given that the Seahawks are drafting in the mid-20s again, he better be adept at turning chicken shit into chicken salad.
Regardless of who’s at the helm, it’s always going to boil down to talent. Bring in the talent, you bring in the wins, bottom line.