Tom Bradley has coached football longer than most ever will, beginning his career in 1979. But he’s never done it at the NFL level. While that could be a concern for some, Kevin Colbert views it as a positive. In today’s Asked and Answered with Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola, he passed along this quote from Colbert on the Bradley hire.
“’Coach Bradley, the interesting thing about Tom is he is coming from the collegiate ranks, and if you are familiar with college football and what is kind of leaking into our league, there are some of those aspects of a college offense that are leaking into our game. So having somebody coming from the college ranks who may be able to help you defend some of those things I think is a positive.’”
College secondaries are no strangers to being multiple and heavy in sub-package football. The NFL has begun to reflect that. Less value on the nose tackle and slot corners are essentially viewed as starters. “Spread” football is the norm in both leagues.
Bradley began his coaching career as a grad assistant at Penn State under Joe Paterno. He stayed there until 2011, took two years off, before resurfacing with UCLA in 2014 before the Steelers called him up.
He’ll inherit a college-looking room too, still full of youth. Artie Burns and Cam Sutton will be 23, Sean Davis, Brian Allen, and Mike Hilton 24. The Steelers are all but guaranteed to add more youth to the secondary, starting with a high pick at safety.
The Steelers, for whatever reason, have struggled – and I’m being kind – in evaluating DBs over the Mike Tomlin era. Bradley won’t have final say on personnel decisions but he’s a fresh voice in the room. And his background is unique, someone well-connected to the college game.
2018 is a critical year for the Steelers’ secondary. A unit that must take the next step, with players in make-or-break seasons. And a Super Bowl window that won’t be open forever. It’s one hire Pittsburgh needs to get right.