PHILADELPHIA — Gus Bradley, meet the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles are interviewing Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Atlanta, two people familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Bradley is the eighth candidate interviewed since the Eagles fired Andy Reid on Dec. 31 following a 4-12 finish. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams aren’t commenting on the interview.
Seattle plays the Falcons in a NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday. If Bradley is their guy, the Eagles can’t officially hire him until the Seahawks are eliminated.
“Well, it’s flattering. And I know people talk about our entire focus is on Atlanta and it really is,” Bradley said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s so important to us. We worked so hard to get to this point and our whole message to the team is to keep raising the bar and getting better and better every week. They’re talking that and we’re talking that, so it’s easy to stay focused on it. It’s flattering as you’ve all heard before. But our entire focus is on Atlanta and trying to get one step closer.”
Bradley is in his fourth season in Seattle. His defense finished first in the NFL in points allowed (15.3), fourth in yards (306.2) and tied for fourth in takeaways (31).
“He’s got a brilliant football mind,” Seahawks coach Peter Carroll said this week. “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.”
Under Bradley, Seattle’s defense has improved each of the last three years and finished in the top 10 in points and yards the last two. The Eagles ranked in the top 10 in both categories in 2011 when they went 8-8. But they were 29th in points and 15th in yards this year. The defense declined after Todd Bowles replaced Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator in October.
The 46-year-old Bradley has emerged as a favorite among fans in Philadelphia based mainly on an old video clip in which he goes off on the Seahawks’ defense during a game.
Bradley began his NFL coaching career with Tampa Bay as a defensive quality control coach in 2006. He was the Buccaneers’ linebackers coach the next two seasons before going to Seattle. Bradley coached in college from 1990-2005, including two stints at North Dakota State and four years at Fort Lewis College.
The Eagles have an interview scheduled with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Monday.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski interviewed former Chicago Bears Lovie Smith on Thursday. They previously met with Atlanta assistants Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong and Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly met with the Eagles on Tuesday, a day after the Fighting Irish lost 42-14 to Alabama BCS national championship game. But Kelly said Saturday that he is staying at Notre Dame.
Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Oregon’s Chip Kelly interviewed with Philadelphia last week, but also chose to remain at their schools.
“There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job,” the Eagles said Saturday in a statement. “We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts. We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”