Gus Bradley's rise through the coaching ranks has given him a unique perspective on the profession. The defensive coordinator at North Dakota State as recently as 2005, Bradley improbably was hired by Monte Kiffin as a quality control assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which led to a hiring as the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator in 2009.
One week after landing his first head coaching job with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bradley was asked by the NFL Network crew at the Senior Bowl how he will go about hiring his first staff. I thought he gave a great answer.
"Right after I was hired and I had the opportunity to go into my office and I made three phone calls," Bradley explained. "One was to Rod Marinelli, another to Lovie Smith and then Leslie Frazier. I said, 'You guys were in the same position I'm in right now a few years ago. As you look back at it, what advice would you give to me?' They said, take your time in hiring your coaching staff. There's going to be times that are tough, so make sure they're not only great coaches but they're great people that will stick through (with) you and they'll be supportive during those times."
Of the eight head coaching openings in the NFL this off-season, Bradley was the lone hire to boast a defensive background. While the task of evaluating offensive players as well as defensive players will take some getting accustomed to, Bradley sees his defensive background as an advantage while putting together a vision for Jacksonville's offense.
"The first thing is, I have to train my eyes to watch both sides of the ball now. It's a little different perspective," remarked Bradley. "Going through the interview process they said, 'What style of offense are you looking for?' I know what creates issues for defenses. I know what put a lot of strain on our defense, whether it's multiple formations, multiple personnel groupings, shifts, motions, phony motions, all those things create issues. You start building an idea, 'Okay, this is what put a lot of strain on us.' Now it's important to go out and try to find a coach that meets that and that's what we did with Jedd (Fisch)."
One may assume Bradley used a stomach full of ambition to rise from FCS assistant to quality control assistant to NFL head coach within a span of eight years. On the contrary, Bradley says his metoric rise was never part of the plan.
"My focus at North Dakota State was really to be the defensive coordinator I could be. That was really my focus. As a quality control coach at Tampa Bay, my only real focus was that and just getting better at that every day. I really just felt if I did that, the opportunity to go up on the ladder would take care of itself."