The Man Who Would Have Been Eagles Coach

Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley of the Seattle Seahawks during the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 9, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 20-16. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – Gus Bradley, who would be the Eagles head coach right now if Chip Kelly had decided to stay in Oregon, stopped by the media workroom at the NFL scouting combine Saturday to talk with reporters.

``It was a tremendous experience,’’ said Bradley of his interview with the Eagles.``They treated me first class.’’

Bradley accepted the Jacksonville Jaguars’ job the day after the Eagles hired Kelly.

``Initially, I was supposed to fly to Philly to interview, then come back to Seattle. After the interview process, they asked me to stay overnight. So I stayed overnight there. I was going to wait until the next morning to find out what was going to take place. But then the Jacksonville (interview) came up. So I flew down to Jacksonville really not knowing what was taking place in Philly.

``I’m not going to lie. It was on my mind when we were flying down there. But once I got in the interview process and started to get to know (Jaguars GM) Dave (Caldwell) . . . one of the things Pete (Carroll) told me was, `Gus, you’ve got to make a connection with the GM.

``Dave and I, it really took off from the start. Then, when Mr. (Shahid) Khan (the Jags’ owner) came in and I started to visit with him, I forgot about my cell phone. I forgot about checking to see what was happening (in Philly).

``Then Jacksonvile asked me to stay overnight as well. And I think after that I said I better check my phone and see what happened (with the Eagles). That’s when Jeffrey (Lurie) called me.’’

Bradley said he never knew Chip Kelly was back in the Eagles’ picture until Lurie told him in the phone call that they had hired him.

Because the Seahawks were in the playoffs, Bradley had little time to think about head-coaching jobs

``Three or four teams made contact and wanted to interview me. At that point, I told Pete, `You know what, I don’t have to go on these. I don’t want to create a distraction. I love it in Seattle. And I don’t want to do anything that’s going to jeopardize what’s going on here.’

``He told me that this doesn’t come around very often. Maybe don’t go on three or four. Maybe pick out two and at least have some conversation with them and see how it goes.

`` I don’t think I was as prepared as I would’ve been if I had had 2-3 weeks to prepare. I didn’t go in with a book or everything laid out. Because my total focus was on doing everything I could for our players and for our team and have a good game against Atlanta.’’

Bradley had a two-hour meeting with Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and club president Don Smolenski the day before the Seahawks’ playoff game against the Falcons.

During the Eagles’ coaching search, there were reports that some candidates were wary of taking the job in Philadelphia because of a lack of confidence in general manager Howie Roseman. Bradley, who said he would have taken the Eagles job if it had been offered to him, said he would’ve had no problem working with Roseman.

``Howie was great,’’ he said. ``All of them were. Jeffrey, the whole group. It was really first class and it was very impressive. I know that, on the flight down to Jacksonville, if they would have called, you know what my answer was going to be because it’s just an impressive organization.’’


Some other highlights of the Bradley interview:


(on more teams going to a 3-4 scheme or a 4-3 Under) ``You see a lot of teams that might be 3-4, then on third down they show 4-3 principles. Where on first and second down, we’ll have both 4-3 and 3-4 principles. In the past, what we’ve seen is, say, in the run game, some offenses say, OK, here’s the run game attack we’ll use against 4-3 teams. Here’s what we’ll do with the run game for 3-4 teams. Well, when they see us do both, the run game shrinks down a little bit. The philosophy behind it defensively is it pares it down and becomes easier for us as far as the style of runs that we see.’’


(popularity of the read option) ``With Russell (Wilson), we started off conservatively, making sure we were putting him in position to be successful. Later in season, they turned him loose a little more and allowed him to be creative. That’s where some of the option run game came into effect. It really was just trying to utilize his athleticism.

``You are seeing that throughout the league. You saw it with RGIII, Kaepernick and obviously Russell. And we’re probably going to see more of that style run.

``What puts stress on the defense, even if the quarterback can get 40-50 yards a game rushing – and it doesn’t have to be the read-option, it can be Aaron Rodgers scrambling – it just puts a lot of stress on the defense and forces you to be more accountable with your assignments.’’


(your defense in Seattle and its ability to defend the read-option) ``For us, it started off with having really good coverage corners. Guys that can play press. And at the defensive end spot, having guys that can run. That’s so important in our philosophy. You’ve got to have a defense built around speed. With (the read-option) being incorporated by more offense, having ends that can run and corners that can press allows you to bring in an extra guy into the box to account for the different option aspects. I think that was critical.’’


(ideal size for your rush end) ``It’s got to be somebody who has good speed. A guy like Chris Clemons. That type of individual who is maybe 6-3, 250 pounds who can run a 4.5, 4.6. Where some teams might consider him a linebacker type, we’ll try to take a look at him and see if he can be that LEO end.’’


(your opinion of staying power of read-option and what defenses will come up with to defend against it) ``It’s probably similar to the Wildcat in some ways. It made a lot of defensive coordinators nervous as far as how much of it you were gonna see. I know in the offseason we were going to put extended periods of time into looking at, OK, what do we need to do to slow this down a little bit. Because it does put some strain.

``Is it here to stay? One of the things in Seattle, they did a good job with Russell on was, he would run out of bounds, he would slide. He would do things to stay out of harm’s way. That’s probably the big thing with quarterbacks. If they’re going to keep the ball and run on the perimeter, they’re really opening themselves up to some hits and some injuries. Franchise quarterbacks right now are so difficult to find. You really need to protect them. So most teams are awful conscious about that.’’