Mike McFeely, Published January 15 2009
Seahawks have quite a catch in Bradley
“They’ve worn nothing but shorts for the last three years, so we need to re-stock the wardrobe,” Casey said.
Might want to look for umbrellas, too.
That’s because Casey, employed since 2006 as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a new and improved gig: defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks.
This is the story of a (sort of) local boy done good. Bradley played at North Dakota State in the late 1980s and was a Bison assistant coach for a decade, rising to defensive coordinator. He was actually a finalist with Craig Bohl for NDSU’s top job after Bob Babich left in 2003.
Sometimes, the best jobs are the ones you don’t get.
Through a set of fortuitous circumstances Bradley was hired as Tampa Bay’s quality control coach in 2006. The story goes that former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, the legendary football lifer, called Bradley looking for information on a different coach and ended up being knocked off his feet by Bradley. Bradley was told he would be groomed to take over as the Bucs’ linebackers coach, a job he held the past two seasons.
And now look at him. Bradley has gone from an assistant coach at a fledgling Division I-AA school to NFL defensive coordinator.
“You really don’t get time to think about those things. It’s such a humbling profession. You can be riding high one minute and the next you are knocked back to reality,” Bradley said. “I look at it this way: There are a lot of great coaches in high school and college. It just so happens some guys get opportunities and I got a great opportunity to learn from guys like Kiff and (Bucs head coach) Jon Gruden. That’s an unbelievable opportunity. You can’t help but get better working with people like that.”
Word out of Seattle is that Bradley again aced his interview, this time with new Seahawks coach Jim Mora, although Bradley downplayed that.
“On the plane ride back to Tampa, I was on my laptop the whole time writing down what I would improve and do differently in my next interview. I thought it was a B-minus, C-plus,” Bradley said.
It helped that Kiffin, who has left the Bucs to become defensive coordinator for his son Lane at the University of Tennessee, called Mora to lobby on Bradley’s behalf. Kiffin is as close to a deity as you’ll find among NFL defensive coaches.
“Monte Kiffin has had a big influence on me. He’s great. He’s one of those guys that if you give him your heart and soul, he’ll repay you,” Bradley said. “It never hurts to have Kiff in your corner, but ultimately if comes down to you.”
Bradley takes over a defense that was awful this season, ranking 30th among 32 team in yards allowed. The Seahawks gave up 392 points, fifth-most in franchise history. They finished 4-12.
Bradley likes the linebacker corps of Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson and Patrick Kerney. He figures that’s a good place to start in rebuilding a defense that was sorely neglected for years under former head coach Mike Holmgren.
Bradley’s exact role with the defense isn’t clear, despite his title. Reports from Seattle have said Mora will call the defensive signals.
Asked about that, Bradley said: “During my interview, coach Mora said he would be involved more than maybe he was in Atlanta when he was the head coach. I was hoping that would be the situation. Here’s a guy who has been coaching defense in this league for over 20 years. That is a valuable resource and you have to use it.”
One last thing. Bradley is a fishing nut. He loved being in Fargo because of its proximity to Minnesota lakes country. He fished largemouth bass in Florida’s lakes and pursued larger quarry in the Gulf of Mexico. Bradley was asked if he had checked Seattle’s fishing opportunities.
“Oh, yeah. That’s one of the first things I did,” Bradley said. “Steelhead, halibut, salmon. I don’t think my kids are disappointed at all.”
Only that they’ll have to wear long pants for the first time in three years.
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