Here's the full transcript of our conversation with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley from this afternoon, courtesy of the team's PR staff.
On his nickname, Gus: "You know, it's a nickname that I had when I was two years old, and everywhere I went, it's carried on. So I would say it's pretty much 100% Gus, except if you looked at my social security card or driver's license. I prefer Gus. [I got the nickname] from my brother, like I said, when I was two years old. It was one of those nicknames that was just brought up in a family setting and it stuck."
On his family growing up: "I come from a family of six, and a very sports-oriented family. My one brother [Scott Bradley] played at Iowa State with Earle Bruce, Johnny Majors and Jackie Sherill back in that era. Another brother [Kelly Bradley] played at Montana State. He was the quarterback when they won the national championship back in the 80s. I had another brother that played college football, [and I played too]. So, a very sports-orientated family situation, sisters involved. I think we were a real close-knit family, and I think every one of my brothers and sisters had some nickname or something that stuck with them. But yeah, it's a close-knit family that followed football through for many years. I'm the youngest."
On how he would describe his defense strategy: "You know, I think there's a perception that Tampa is Tampa Two and that's all that Tampa did under Monte Kiffin. That's not necessarily a fact. I think the one thing that made Monte Kiffin unique and made him a great coach in the NFL was he had the ability to adapt and adjust. Maybe the perception was cover-two, but we played some eight-man stuff, we played quarters-covered, we played cover-two, we zone-pressured, we man-pressured. There's a lot of things that were coming at the offense. I think that's what made him unique. That philosophy of having the ability to attack, whether it's a blitz situation, a zone pressure situation, or even if it's a seven-man front, that's our mindset: to attack. I think that's what probably will be brought to Seattle more than anything."
On his impressions of Seattle's personnel: "We went to the Senior Bowl, and then we've been together here as a staff in the hiring process—we just hired Tim Lewis a little while ago—so we've been trying to get to know each other. We're kind of gathering information as far as concepts that everybody's been a part of. We're in a unique situation where Dan Quinn was with the Jets in a 3-4 scheme, Tim has been both [in a] 3-4 and a 4-3, I've been familiar with the 4-3, similar to Seattle. So we've been gathering all that information and trying to evaluate personnel while we're doing that with those concepts. I know that they've played very good defense here in the past, and I know last year didn't meet the standards that everybody has here in Seattle in this organization. So it's my job, and our job as a coaching staff, to get back to those standards. I know that we'll be evaluating personnel and evaluating schemes and we'll see where we're at. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I'll be able to better answer that question for you."
On whether the staff is considering playing a 3-4 defense: "No. We feel pretty good. We're a 4-3 team, similar to what they did here. But I think there's just going to be some differences you'll see—maybe it's more of an attacking defense. Like I said before, 'attacking' doesn't mean 'blitz-heavy' or 'pressure-heavy.' I think the big thing that we need here—it sounds like, in visiting with players and coaches and things like that—I think there needs to be a high demand on our players, and hold them accountable to that, and take any gray area out of the scheme, have a system implemented, and implement it, teach it, coach it with passion, and then demand that from the players and hold them accountable to it. I think if they…understand all the scenarios that can be played—situational football—I think you're going to see a defense that plays hard and plays fast. To me, that's an aggressive defense."
On whether the personnel in Seattle fits the speed of the personnel he had in Tampa: "Yeah, I think it does. I think if you [look at] Lofa [Tatupu], I would say he plays extremely fast. He has speed. I think probably at the Tampa situation, that is definitely the perception, although Warren Sapp was 305 pounds when he played. He was fast and big. I think that's ultimately what you would like: you would like to have a defense that has tremendous speed, but also, in situations where it's third and one or third and three and they're going to run the ball, you need to have enough guys up front that are stubborn enough to handle those situations."
On his unconventional interview with Coach Mora: "It was interesting. I've been a part of different interviews in the interview process. Even in Tampa Bay when I interviewed with Monte Kiffin and Jon Gruden, that was a grind, but probably nothing like here because we [Coach Mora and I] didn't know each other. So when I came in…we first had a chance to visit and talk and get a feel for each other's personalities, and then we went into the room and we started talking about the very simple philosophies, personal philosophies, coaching philosophies, how you'd handle players, how you'd handle different situations. Maybe a situation was brought up to me, [for example,] 'A player did this. How would you handle it?'
And then we went into the film, and we started watching the film. We watched our film at Tampa, we watched Seattle's film. It just went on and on and on. We talked about the defensive line, the linebackers and secondary. To me, and probably Coach Mora, it didn't seem that long, but we were in the room and when we looked up, we realized just how long we were in there. But it was a great experience. For me, it was also getting a feel for him and his personality. Just like he didn't know me, I wanted to make sure I was coming into a situation where I felt comfortable. All the things that he believed in, and what he expected from me, were the same feelings I had."
On whether he's comfortable with Coach Mora having a defensive background and how they'll work that out on game days: "That's a great question. We haven't talked about that in detail, but I think in my situation, if you would say, 'What is your philosophy?' I would say I'm probably demanding, I hold guys accountable, and I'm going to coach with passion…I think there's a difference between being extremely confident and humble. I'd probably err on trying to be humble and understand my role. I think that's the number one thing. When this is all said and done, wherever I'm at, if they would look back and they would say, 'One thing about Gus was he was extremely loyal, and he understood his role and he took care of it.'
"To me, if Jim Mora says, 'Hey Gus, I don't know what the situation is going to be like. We just need to discuss this. It might happen in two weeks, it might happen in a month, as far as how game days are handled,' I'm fine with that. I'm fine with that. I know that, for me, I think that we have a tremendous staff that's extremely excited about getting the Seattle Seahawks back on track and in the right direction. I don't think anybody else on the staff has any other agenda. That's what I love. There's no other agenda, other than getting the Seattle Seahawks back where they belong. So my vision is that. All that other stuff. ... I know that will work its way out.
"Right now, I just want to work hard with the staff that we have about getting them on track. That stuff will be taken care of. Whatever my role is, I'll handle that. But I don't want to waste my energy on that. I want to waste my energy on us getting better."
On Jon Gruden being fired at Tampa Bay and whether he's wondered if he would have gotten the head coaching job there if he had stayed: "No. They did the right thing with Raheem [Morris], as far as that situation…with Coach Gruden. ... not being there anymore. They had to look for somebody. I have complete faith in Raheem, and he is a very good coach. Very good. So that decision they made as far as that, I think they did the right thing. Now, Coach Gruden, to me, and what he's done for me personally, he's a great coach and I have a deep respect for him. To have the opportunity to work with Coach Jon Gruden, Monte Kiffin, guys of that temperament and that nature, [who] have that kind of passion for the game, it was unbelievable. An unbelievable growing experience for me. It's unfortunate, I think, what happened to Jon Gruden, but with the situation that took place, Raheem's a very good choice for them."
On whether he saw the Gruden firing coming: "No, I didn't."
On how he moved from North Dakota State to the NFL: "I came out of North Dakota State in the late 80s and got a job in Colorado at a Division II school. I came back to North Dakota State and was there for six months and the head coach got let go. The new coach who came in was Bob Babich, who now is the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. Bob hired me as the defensive coordinator there. I worked with him for—I believe—six years. And then he went with Lovie Smith to St. Louis. I thought, 'If there's any opportunity for me to get in the NFL, it would probably be through Bob Babich.'
"We put in the Tampa Two system at North Dakota State, and I would go and visit when they were down in Chicago. I got to know Coach Smith, I got to know Bob Babich. I had a great relationship with them, and again, I thought maybe that would bring me the opportunity. Well, we had a staff member on our staff at North Dakota State who was a very good secondary coach, who Monte Kiffin was interested in bringing down to Tampa to interview for the secondary job when Mike Tomlin left. He called me, as the defensive coordinator, out of the blue, to get a recommendation for the secondary coach.
"So Monte and I started to talk. As we talked, it became a talk that went from a conversation of recommending an individual to, 'Hey, don't you run the Tampa Two there? How would you handle this? How would you handle this situation?' And it just went deeper and deeper, to where we had four or five conversations, and then when he talked to me, he said, 'You know what? We have a coach here—Joe Barry—who's probably going to leave in a year, and we need an older coach to come in here that's been involved in the system. I make no promises, but we're going to interview guys to come in here, who, if Joe Barry would move on, they would eventually take over the linebackers.' I'd never met Monte Kiffin, never talked to him [in person]. So then I went and interviewed with three or four other guys, and then I got the job. And then a year later, Joe left and I became the linebacker coach."
On how he must be a pretty impressive interviewee: "Well, I appreciate that. I think it's easy if you're with good people. For me, I never worry about going into a situation [thinking], 'What happens if I don't answer this right, or if I mess up on the interview?' I just figure, I'm going to go in there and be myself, and do the best I can, and do it with passion, and see what happens. This job right here [in Seattle], to me, is extremely important. It is extremely important to me. It's extremely important to me because I think our staff is made up of very good coaches and very good people. Like I said before, they're driven to get this thing going in the right direction. I love to be a part of that. And I can sell out to that. That's what I want to be a part of, and we'll see what happens. I think what I do is I convey that enthusiasm, and that attitude to the players. It might be a league week. To me, I am excited and passionate about coaching up a league week. It's great to see someone take on a fullback, or a linebacker getting over the top, or a safety going. All those little detail things, keeping good leverage.
"I just feel so strongly about those things. I think it can convey over to the players, and hopefully they play with that same type of enthusiasm and passion. And I know we talk to the players, and I tell them in all my conversations with them, 'We're going to be demanding. We're going to hold you accountable. There's not going to be any gray area. But you're going to get in your car in the morning and [won't be able] to wait to come to the facility, because it's going to be a great environment.' I think that's what Coach Mora brings to the Seahawks, too. He brings that type of environment. He brings intensity and passion, and yet, you're going to have fun while you're doing it."
On what he did for Coach Gruden and Coach Kiffin in his first year at Tampa Bay: "Well, I was a quality control coach. I was actually breaking down the games. I had an opportunity to be—because of my situation, where it was going to lead possibly into coaching the linebackers—involved with the linebackers. I would take the younger linebackers out on the field, work with them, meet with them. I was probably more involved than a typical quality control coach situation. I was involved with game planning, involved in meetings."
On whether he's ever worked with anyone on the Seahawks' staff: "Robert Prince, at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. I coached with him there."
On whether there is a concern amongst the coaches that they don't know each other all that well: "I'm sure there is when you put together a staff like that, but I know Coach Mora…Look what he went through. He had to hire everybody without us being here to help. I was down in Tampa, he was interviewing Dan Quinn…Again, I think it goes back to having faith and understanding. I knew Jim Mora in that interview situation. I knew what he was all about. So whether I was here or not, I knew what type of people he wanted on the defensive staff. So, when he says, 'Yeah, we got Dan Quinn,' I was like, 'Enough said. I know enough about Dan Quinn, and I know what you're all about.' I know what his personality's going to be like. It's going to be great. Not to be naive, I know there's always situations where maybe there's personality conflicts and things like that, but I haven't seen it. So far, it's been great."
On what he thinks he needs to change here: "That's a situation where, I think before I comment on too much of that, I would like to have the ability to watch more, and see exactly where we're at. As far as all those free agencies and things like that, I don't know what's going to happen. I do know that we'd love to have them all back, and we'd love to have them be a part of it. There's some good players in that mix. I'd probably have to hold off on that to give you [an exact answer]. We've watched enough of the scheme things and things like that [so we can evaluate], 'Is there missed tackles? Is there guys losing leverage?' You can say that about every team, that those things took place. I know there's some things that maybe it was a year that wasn't as productive as they'd hoped. I know as we dig even more, we'll find some things out, but really, we're going to latch onto our philosophy of being tremendous at the fundamentals. And all those little things that we're going to coach up, hopefully will get us to where we're more productive."
On whether physical size is a problem with the current Seattle defense: "If you see guys getting driven off the ball, I think that's the first thing people attribute it to. They go, 'Oh, they're not big enough.' But it might be just technique. It might be that they're not getting low enough, their stance isn't low enough, they're not in position. Maybe a linebacker's playing high, or the secondary's got a little bit of a different read than what he's going to be now in the system. So, I don't know if you look at size until we evaluate and go through all of it, [until] Dan and I and Coach Mora sit down and evaluate the defensive line and the linebackers, then I'll be able to give you a better feel for it.
"I know that they've played good defense here, and lapses like that, at times, happen. I think everybody wants to point the finger and see whose fault was it, rather than just saying, 'Let's correct it. Let's find out what went wrong and get it fixed.' I think we've all coached enough football—even though it's only my third year in the NFL, I've coached for 20 years and I've dealt with people for 42—that I think all those things come into play when you're looking at coming into a new situation. I think people got to believe in what you're talking about, and you can show that on tape."
On whether he has size specifications that he prefers for a defense: "I think that's a big question now, especially in our division. Do you need a bigger corner and a bigger safety? I do know that if a quarterback's on his back, all of a sudden that receiver isn't as tall, you know? They can't get the ball out to him. That's what a lot of teams do. There's not a 6'5" corner out there, no matter how bad you look at it. [Or if there is,] he's not going to have everything that you're looking for. I think we've got some very good corners here.
"I think that we have some very good players here, we just need to continue to get them in position to make plays, whether that's in situations where we bring pressure, where Coach Quinn gets the d-line heated up even more, whether we play a cover-two in certain situations based on blitzing situations, whether we double…those situations have got to be well-thought out. Everybody would like to be bigger. Everybody would like to be bigger and faster up front, in the linebacking corps, and in the secondary. But at times, that's not possible. I do know that we feel like we have some good personnel here. We're always going to continue to try to get that better, but there's some good players in place."
On whether the foundation of Seattle's defense next year will be a Tampa-Two style: "Well, they played cover-two here last year, you know? But there is going to be some changes…Like I said, we're going to get into that more now in the next couple weeks: 'Just how was two taught here?' 'Well, they opened up this way and this way.' 'Well, we're going to tweak that. Even though you did it that way, we may adjust it.' 'How'd you play quarters here? Perfect, that's how we're going to play quarters.' We might add in an additional coverage or two. But I think there's some things that you'll probably be able to look at on the field and see as far as coverage and fronts that is recognizable from last year, and there's other things that are going to be different."
On what defenses around the league he'd like to emulate: "That's getting back to scheme things. I think that you just got to be careful about people saying, 'Hey, look at Pittsburgh. Look at Baltimore. Look at Tampa. Look at Chicago in their heyday,' and draw from them, [because] all of a sudden you have so much that you can't do any of it very well. That comes back to having a philosophy. You have a certain philosophy, you believe in it, and then you coach the players up and they believe in that philosophy and you go from there. We have Dan Quinn, who has some 3-4 experience, we have Tim Lewis who has some 3-4 experience. Are we a 3-4 team? No. We're a 4-3 gap-controlled team. Now, in third down situations, one of those things may pop up. They may. If it helps us win, if it helps us get pressure and things like that, that might be something we look into. But our base philosophy is a 4-3 attacking defense."
On whether there's anything that Seattle's defense does well, on which he can build a foundation: "One of the games I brought up was the Buffalo game. It came up and you watch the first game and you go on to see what happened, and you saw some guys make some plays. You saw some good tackling take place. You saw a defense that seemed to know their fit and understand how to fit up certain things. They played aggressively. Now, we have to see that that continues all the way throughout. This is a long season. It's easy to have passion and enthusiasm and excitement the first two games, especially if you start 2-0. But how about that eighth, tenth, twelfth game? That's where I think you got to keep it fresh. You got to keep the players stimulated in the meeting room and on the practice field, because then, all of a sudden, you become a better tackling team. You get lazy? All of a sudden you miss tackles. You lose leverage? You look bad on the field. It's concentration, holding guys accountable—it goes back to that. So, do I think there's some things that we can build on? Oh, yeah. You're not too far off. But sometimes the difference between a 4-12 team and a 10-6 team, it's not that far off. But there are things that we got to get corrected."
On whether it's weird that, three years after coaching at North Dakota State, he is a defensive coordinator in the NFL: "The good thing about Tampa Two is this: Jon Gruden, if he felt confident with coaches, he would put you in situations to lead. So he put me in situations to get up front of the whole team to speak. Same with Monte Kiffin. Every week, we had the opportunity to get up in front of the defense and speak. I handled all the run game at Tampa with a presentation to the defense. So I was up front, leading Derrick Brooks and Jeremiah Trotter and Chris Hovan, Ronde Barber. Did that blow my mind to come here? No. My focus, like I said, is to get this thing back on track and get going in the right direction, which I believe we can. That other stuff, my meeting room every week was with Derrick Brooks and Jeremiah Trotter and Cato June. That's fine. That's great. Let's go. We need to get better. I don't think about that."
On whether being an NFL defensive coordinator is perhaps more than he expected so quickly: "Yeah, I suppose. I never looked ahead. I never said, 'You know what? In three years, I want to be coordinator. In five years, I want to be a head coach.' Whether it's right or wrong, that's not my mindset. I think those things will take care of themselves if you work extremely hard and believe in what you're doing, and believe in your staff and believe in your players. Then success will come, and then all those things take place. I know it's probably not the right thing to say—that I didn't set goals…I think everybody has [goals], but that wasn't my focus."
On whether he ever considered trying to move up the college coaching ranks: "Once again, same thing. I was happy at North Dakota State. It was a great place. I enjoyed it. They treated me very well, treated our family very well. If that opportunity would've come up, I would've looked at it. Maybe some opportunities did, but I didn't feel it was right for the family at that time. But when the Tampa situation came up, I just felt it was the right situation."
On how he's able to keep up his energy and enthusiasm all season long: "Look at what I'm doing now. I'm telling you, look. I'm coaching as a defensive coordinator—or whatever I was in Tampa, the linebacker coach—in the NFL. All the players that are in this building that I've ever dealt with—in Tampa, and I believe in here—they're excited about playing. So every day, I go in the room and teach something that people are willing to receive and are passionate about hearing about. I mean, anybody would love to be in that environment, regardless of what occupation they're in. It just so happens, I love football. To keep that passion and keep that enthusiasm, it's what I love to do. There's nothing better than putting in a scheme and seeing players be successful. You love that. In Tampa, maybe it was that you put in something and you see Derrick Brooks have success with it. You know, it gets you excited. Here, it'll be the same thing seeing Brian Russell have success, to see Lofa have success at putting things in. I mean, when you have that, and you see it on film, that rush of adrenaline that takes place, that's what keeps your passion going, and your enthusiasm."
On when he fell in love with football: "Probably when my dad made us go to every Iowa State game. [Laughs.] We had no choice. No, I think when you're brought up around it, you have really no choice. You go to games every Saturday, you watch football on Sunday. It's what you know. It's what you see. I think I love football, but I've been around some people that have been excited about the game. I think that's more my personality. If it had been a situation where it was low-key, it probably wouldn't have fit my personality. I think there's a difference between being passionate and excited, and being crazy and out of control. I hope I'm not viewed as that, but will I get excited if a player makes a big play? Well, yeah! Yeah, I'm going to be excited. You feel strongly about that. If the players see you feel that strongly, it's going to transfer over to them. It's going to. And if you believe in something so strongly, they'll believe in that strongly. Or, who knows? One of us isn't going to be here, you know? It's just one of those situations."
On whether he's met Tatupu yet: "Yeah, I have. I have met with him down in the weight room—nothing in great detail. Like I said, we haven't been here. I've talked to him on the phone, I saw him in the weight room, but never in a situation where we've met and been together talking football for an hour. But you can just tell—when you meet people and you talk to them—you can see that passion…Yeah, I think it's pretty great."
On whether it's important to have a passionate linebacker: "It's extremely important. I don't know what has taken place here in the past, but I do know that he's going to be a big part in our defense, in controlling the defense—the front, the secondary, making adjustments—a lot will fall on him as the middle linebacker, and our linebacking corps. My understanding from speaking with him, I think he wants that. He wants even more of that responsibility. He wants to be in that leadership position even more."
On what his system asks for positionally: "I think that positionally, probably the number one thing is they've got to understand the scheme. We're going to really tax our players mentally. They've got to understand, if we're in a cover-two or a cover-four or an eight-man front, what the d-line is playing, how the linebackers are playing it, and how the secondaries are going to play it. They got to be able to know what everybody else is doing, as a safety, so that they understand the fit and how to make plays. So I think the first thing is, they've got to be able to handle it mentally, which I know our group can. I know they can just from visiting with them. That's the first thing. Then I think talent-wise, obviously you want guys that will have the ability to play man-to-man, have the ability to play cover-two, and also will come up and hit you. I think there needs to be a presence on the field to [the point] where, a receiver, when he's coming across the middle, or if a safety's coming up to the line of scrimmage, he has the ability to finish at the pile and knock back. I think when a player gets up, a running back gets up, and he sees 11 jerseys around him, and they're all Seahawks jerseys, that sends a message. That mentality. ... You're asking, 'Is there a certain type of player that we're looking for?' I just think that we got the guys in place. We're always going to add to it, and we'll see. But I feel good about the little bit that I've seen and what I hear. Without watching all the film and being where I need to be right now to give you an exact answer…I'll be able to comment more on that later, probably."