With Hawks’ success, other teams interested in assistants

January 9, 2013 

That other NFL teams covet his coordinators strikes Pete Carroll as a compliment to the status of the Seahawks program.

But you can tell it’s like being flattered to hear that somebody wants to steal his Jaguar.

Reports surfaced that the Philadelphia Eagles sought permission to talk to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and Chicago has done the same regarding offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

“They’re both fantastic candidates,” Carroll said. “They’re equipped; they’ve got their act together. They’re going to be head coaches, whether it’s now or in the near future.”

Bradley oversees the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL (fourth in total yards), and Bevell is the coordinator of the hottest offense in the NFL over the past month or so.

But the stats and rankings are secondary; what teams are really looking for is a way to learn the ingredients to the magic dust Carroll has spread across the Seahawks to get them to 11-5 and into the divisional round of the playoffs this week at Atlanta.

With Carroll, it’s about energy and enthusiasm and attitude, and also his successful personnel collaboration with general manager John Schneider.

And because Carroll and Schneider are rooted here, the best others can do is try to lop off a branch of that coaching tree and graft it onto their franchise.

Bradley, at 42 and bearing a demeanor befitting a head coach, seems best suited to carry on the essence of that elsewhere.

He has a scant seven seasons in the NFL, the past four in Seattle. But his coaching bloodlines through Monte Kiffin at Tampa Bay, and now Carroll in Seattle, are impeccable.

He’s young and charismatic, with the communication skills to deal with the press as well as the football chops to win over the players.

Some Seahawks have commented on his positive approach, that he never has a bad day, never shows up at anything less than full energy. In a game that has turned into a year-round job, there’s great value in that.

As the story goes, when Jim Mora was looking for a defensive coordinator in 2009, Kiffin told him that Bradley was “a once-in-a-lifetime” prospect.

When Carroll arrived, he, too, valued Kiffin’s recommendation. But he nonetheless invested 10 days getting to know Bradley before deciding to retain him.

“After being around him, he’s got a tremendous personality,” Carroll said. “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.”

As the Hawks adapted to Carroll’s scheme and sorted through the players needed to operate it, Bradley’s defense was rated 27th in 2010. Last season, it improved to No. 9, and this year is rated the highest in franchise history.

Suitors will question his experience in the league, and also consider whether Carroll is really the father of this defense and Bradley is merely the friendly uncle who baby-sits.

I strongly suspect Bradley can answer those issues and score convincing “wins” in any interview he gets.

In the case of Bevell, he has 13 years experience in the league, including seven as coordinator. He helped reshape this offense on the fly as rookie quarterback Russell Wilson grew into it.

But the degree of his influence also will be studied, as Tom Cable, assistant head coach/offensive line coach, runs the offensive meetings – the weekly scheme preparation is a collaborative effort – and Bevell calls the plays.

Cable, another obvious candidate, has experience as an NFL head coach (Oakland 2008-2010), and has been an obvious force in shaping this team into what it has become. A messy firing by Al Davis in Oakland didn’t help Cable’s public image, but three seasons of success in Seattle surely have been curative in that regard.

But, for now, Bradley seems the most appealing target for poachers.

“He’s got everything that you’re looking for,” Carroll said. “We’re playing the best (defensive) football that we’ve played and we can still get better and he knows it and will keep pushing for it.

“It’s really a great relationship that we have and we’ve been very lucky to have him.”

The team that hires him as a head coach, now or down the road, will be lucky to have him, too.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@ thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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