By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — The Seahawks were without a defensive coordinator for only a matter of hours Thursday morning.
Jacksonville announced early in the day that Gus Bradley, Seattle’s defensive coordinator for the past four seasons, had been hired as the Jaguars new head coach. Later in the morning, the Seahawks named Dan Quinn their defensive coordinator.
Bradley’s name had been linked with several vacancies since seven head coaches were fired the day after the regular season ended, so his departure was hardly a surprise. He interviewed twice with Philadelphia and was believed to be the front-runner for the Eagles job before Oregon’s Chip Kelly came back into the picture. So it’s likely Pete Carroll had been working on contingency plans, which explains the quick hire of Quinn, who worked for Carroll as Seattle’s defensive line coach in 2010.
Quinn, who spent the past two seasons as the University of Florida’s defensive coordinator, came to Seattle as the defensive line coach in 2009. He was a candidate for Seattle’s defensive coordinator job once before — when then-coach Jim Mora hired Bradley. After Carroll was hired as head coach in 2010, he retained Bradley and Quinn, who then left a year later to take over Florida’s defense.
Quinn’s familiarity with Seattle’s defense and a number of the team’s players should make for a smooth transition. Since Carroll has such a big hand in the defense, it is unlikely that changing coordinators will drastically change the way Seattle plays.
“Dan Quinn is an excellent teacher who is familiar with our system and allows us to maintain continuity,” Carroll said in a press release. “Dan did a great job for us in 2010 and I’m pleased to get him back.”
Quinn was a well-respected coach among Seahawks players when he left, and he was largely responsible for one of the moves that helped shape Carroll’s defense. Quinn suggested before the 2010 season that Red Bryant, a little-used defensive tackle at the time, move to defensive end.
For Bradley, the move to Jacksonville continues the 46-year-old’s quick rise through the coaching ranks.
As recently as 2005, Bradley was the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State, his alma mater, and he jumped to the NFL in 2006 as a quality-control coach in Tampa Bay. He landed that job only because he happened to answer the phone when Monte Kiffin, Tampa’s defensive coordinator at the time, called to ask about another NDSU assistant, but got into a discussion with Bradley and came away impressed with the young defensive coordinator.
Bradley was promoted to Tampa Bay’s linebackers coach a year later, then in 2009, he was hired by Mora. When Carroll replaced Mora and was assembling a new coaching staff, he received a call from Kiffin, a long-time friend and mentor, who offered some advice on hiring a defensive coordinator.
“There’s one right in the building,” Kiffin told Carroll. “You don’t have to look far.”
In his four years in Seattle, the energetic Bradley helped turn the Seahawks’ defense from young and promising to one of the best in football in 2012. The Seahawks ended the 2012 season giving up the fewest points in the NFL and fourth-fewest yards.
“He’s got a tremendous personality,” Carroll said of Bradley last week. “He’s got a great work ethic, he’s got a brilliant football mind, he’s got a way of reaching people and touching people and getting the best out of them — coaches and players alike. He’s got everything that you’re looking for.”
Carroll and players alike agreed losing Bradley would be tough, but also acknowledged that he was a great head coaching candidate.
“It’d be a tough blow to lose Gus,” cornerback Richard Sherman said Monday. “We have other coaches who would step up and run the same things we’ve been running, but he’s a great coach. He’s enthusiastic, he’s energetic, he’s a player’s coach. There aren’t enough verbs and nouns in the dictionary to describe all the great things about Gus Bradley. … He’s great. He deserves everything he’s getting.”
And to the people who know Bradley, it’s hardly a surprise he’s getting this chance. In a phone interview in September, Kiffin predicted that Bradley would be an NFL coach soon.
“I knew from Day 1 that Gus was special,” Kiffin said. “He’ll be a head coach in the NFL. He’s got no panic. Some people do, it doesn’t mean they’re not really good coaches, but Gus, he’s special. When he interviews, he’ll knock your socks off. I’m not trying to pump him up, but I know what he is.”
By the time the dust settles, Bradley might not be the Seahawks’ only loss this week. According to multiple reports, Seahawks VP of Football Administration John Idzik is the frontrunner to become the general manager of the New York Jets. In Seattle, Idzik was the team’s salary cap guru and handled contract negotiations.
The Seahawks should, however, retain offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Bevell had interviewed for the Jacksonville opening as well as the one in Arizona, but the Cardinals hired Bruce Arians Thursday evening.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.