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Las Vegas Raiders set to hire Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator

Aug 30, 2020; Los Angeles, California, United States; Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley wears a face covering during training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Since the end of their disappointing 8-8 season, Las Vegas Raiders rumors have primarily surrounded who the team will find to replace recently-fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.

The normal names have come up such as Dan Quinn, Wade Phillips and Gus Bradley. We now have more information on the Raiders’ next defensive coordinator under head coach Jon Gruden. It can’t be considered too much of a surprise.

Raiders hire Gus Bradley

The minute Bradley became available after Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn was fired following the 2020 season, he was linked to the Raiders’ vacancy.

To an extent, this makes perfect sense. Bradley, 54, has a ton of experience as a defensive play-caller. That includes stints as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator (2009-12) and with the Chargers (2017-20). He also served as the primary defensive play-caller for the Jacksonville Jaguars as their head coach from 2013-16.

To say that the results have been mixed would be an understatement.

Raiders hire Gus Bradley: How defenses have performed under the coordinator

Raiders rumors: Team hires Gus Bradley as new defensive coordinator
Aug 27, 2020; Inglewood, California, United States; Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley at a scrimmage at SoFi Stadium that was cancelled in the wake of protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2009: 24th (Seahawks)
  • 2010: 27th (Seahawks)
  • 2011: 9th (Seahawks)
  • 2012: 4th (Seahawks)
  • 2013: 27th (Jaguars)
  • 2014: 26th (Jaguars)
  • 2015: 24th (Jaguars)
  • 2016: 6th (Jaguars)
  • 2017: 15th (Chargers)
  • 2018: 9th (Chargers)
  • 2019: 6th (Chargers)
  • 2020: 10th (Chargers)

The good news? Gus Bradley led three top-10 defenses in his final three seasons with the Chargers before being hired by the division-rival Raiders. The bad news? He has also led five bottom-10 defenses during his career. As noted above, it is really a mixed bag.

NFL insiders will like this move in that it gives the offensive-minded Gruden an experienced man on the other side of the ball. Last season saw Las Vegas finish 25th in total defense and 30th in points allowed under Guenther.

Related: NFL defense rankings – Outlook for 2021 season

Raiders rumors: Impact of the Gus Bradley hire

Raiders rumors: Team must improve its personnel on defense
Nov 15, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden (left) and general manager Mike Mayock walk off the field after the game against the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 37-12. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It must be noted that Bradley’s previous experience included a stint as Gruden’s linebackers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2006-08. He led the dynamic duo of Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks and the underrated Shelton Quarles during that span. This built-in relationship could help.

With that said, a lot of the onus is going to be on the Raiders’ player personnel department to improve this defense. Bradley won’t have a lot of proven talent to work with once he starts his career in Las Vegas. That’s going to be up to Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock.

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