The Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Gus Bradley on Sunday following their 21-20 loss to the Houston Texans. They have appointed Doug Marrone interim coach, and Bradley now gets to figure out what’s next.
Bradley was on the hot seat for much of the season, which has led to some discussion about his suitability as a defensive coordinator. The 49ers defense has been a mess, and you can point to a whole mess of problems. Injuries and lack of depth are big issues, but considering Jim O’Neil was not a respected coordinator in Cleveland, a complete overhaul seems necessary.
Earlier this month, I reached out to Kenneth Arthur from Field Gulls to get his thoughts on Bradley’s time as defensive coordinator in Seattle. In discussing this with Kenneth, much will depend on what the 49ers do with their coaching staff. But even with that, a complete overhaul and rebuild might not be a situation for which Bradley is best suited. Here’s what Kenneth had to say:
The first thing I'd say about Bradley as it pertains to the Seahawks is that his time with the team as we know it today was actually quite brief. He was hired by Jim Mora in 2009 and then retained by Pete Carroll in 2010. The defense was really bad that first season and then improved in 2011 when they had started to really integrate some talent with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in their second seasons, Richard Sherman as a rookie, Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane, KJ Wright, Red Bryant, and Clinton McDonald. Then the defense was pretty good. The next season when they drafted Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin and other players matured even further, they became great, and Bradley was hired away by the Jaguars. What that tells me, in addition to why Carroll kept him despite a poor season in 2009 and again in 2010 (Carroll fired offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates after only one bad season) is that he's a player's coach. He's a great person. He's the type of guy who once you get into a room with him, you want to keep inviting him back. This is also why he's still an NFL coach (as of this writing) after four of the worst seasons in league history. Gus is a great guy and you'll be rooting for him but if the talent isn't there, it honestly will not matter. You'll lose and you'll be bad.
Schematically, I don't really know if I follow how he'd fit with the 49ers. Are Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner now 4-3 defensive ends and NaVorro Bowman is a middle linebacker and Eli Harold is a Leo and Jimmie Ward is a deathbacker? Maybe. It's just a lot to process for a defensive coordinator change. Not a head coaching change, mind you, but a new defensive coordinator. The 49ers have headed in this direction and added players for a 3-4 and were quite successful at it a couple years ago. So are they hiring Bradley to change everything or hiring Bradley to have him coach something he hasn't coached as a defensive coordinator or head coach? To what end? If it's his system, he's not gonna blitz a ton, he's gonna do the things that I'm sure San Francisco is very familiar with seeing in all their matchups against Seattle in the last six or seven years. There's not a lot of things that are fancy or disguised. What you see is what you get. And if the talent isn't there, it won't matter. Get him a Myles Garrett or a Jabrill Peppers and that probably won't hurt.
I don't know if this helps a ton or not but I just don't see the fit without firing Trent Baalke, Chip Kelly, and starting from scratch. (Possible, I guess.)