Why Gus Bradley is a fit for Redskins defensive coordinator

WASHINGTON — The Redskins interviewed former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley for their open defensive coordinator position on Wednesday, the team announced.

The Jaguars fired Bradley, 50, last month after four seasons. But he established a strong track record as a defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks from 2009 to 2012.

Bradley has strong ties across the Redskins organization. He was a linebackers coach in Tampa Bay from 2006 to 2008. In fact, he took over for Joe Barry, who left in 2007 to become the defensive coordinator in Detroit.

That didn’t go so well for Barry, who was fired after two seasons with the Lions. Things didn’t go so well for him in Washington, either. Barry was fired last week. Bradley is a prime candidate to replace him given those ties to Jay Gruden, who was on staff with the Buccaneers then and knows him well. Washington team president Bruce Allen was in Tampa Bay then, too, as the general manager. Jon Gruden was the head coach.

Now add in Bradley’s ties to Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan. Bradley was the defensive coordinator in Seattle from 2009 to 2012. McCloughan returned to Seattle as an executive in 2010 and stayed there until 2013. Bradley left after the 2012 season to become the Jaguars head coach.

Much like Barry, Bradley is a disciple of Monte Kiffin, the longtime NFL defensive coordinator who held that position in Tampa Bay from 1996 to 2008. Prior to joining the Buccaneers coaching staff in 2006 as a quality control coach, Bradley was the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State, his alma mater, for 10 years.

Bradley worked with an exceptionally talented defense in Seattle, but it took some time to get there. He survived the firing of head coach Jim Mora after the 2009 season and was kept on by Pete Carroll. The Seahawks went from 5-11 to consecutive 7-9 seasons (2010, 2011) and then exploded to 11-5. Redskins fans will remember that season. Seattle beat them in the NFC wild card game in 2012 at FedEx Field and Robert Griffin III injured his knee. The Seahawks lost the next week at Atlanta in the divisional round and Bradley, a hot commodity, was hired by Jacksonville.

But the group of players that he and Carroll built were Super Bowl champions the next season and won the NFC again the year after that. Seattle has won at least 10 games every season since first breaking through under Carroll and Bradley in 2012.

Of course, it helps to have generational talents like Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman on your side along with productive defensive lines. Bradley wouldn’t have that in Washington. The Redskins have work to do to add talent to that side of the football.

Bradley struggled as the head coach in Jacksonville. His teams went 14-48 in less than four years. Bradley was fired after a Dec. 18 loss to Houston. The Jaguars did allow 321.7 yards per game in 2016, which ranked sixth in the NFL. That didn’t translate in the points allowed category, where Jacksonville ranked 26th (25.1).

But both were improvements on 2015 as the talent level has risen for the Jaguars with high draft picks like cornerback Jalen Ramsey (No. 5, 2016), outside linebacker Dante Fowler (No. 3, 2015) along with linebacker Myles Jack (2016 second round) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (2016 third round), a Maryland product who was second among all NFL rookies with eight sacks. Bradley would be expected to help develop young players with the Redskins, too.

Washington has already interviewed former Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine for the open coordinator position. It received permission to interview Carolina Panthers defensive backs coach Steve Wilks last week. But Wilks is a prime candidate to take over that same position with the Panthers, who lost defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday as head coach.

In other news, the Denver Broncos hired Vance Joseph to be their new head coach. That leaves the status of Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips uncertain. His contract runs out at the end of the month. Phillips was a candidate to be the defensive coordinator for the Redskins in 2014 before Jay Gruden hired Barry. Phillips, of course, ran Denver’s remarkable defense and the Broncos won a Super Bowl title last season.

Follow Redskins reporter Brian McNally on Twitter.

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