It won’t be long before we will have heard from every single defensive back on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster about new defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, who is not only in his first season with the team, but his first in the NFL. We have had so many already speak about him that I’ve frankly lost track, but I know the rookies and Sean Davis did.
The latest is evidently Brian Allen, whom the Steelers selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Though he spent all 16 games on the 53-man roster and was active for most of them, he did not spend any time playing on defense, but he did carve out a ‘starting’ role for himself on special teams, primarily on the punt units.
Allen’s perspective might be particularly interesting because the cornerback is a raw player. He only spent his final two seasons in college working at his new position. He told reporters when he was drafted that he had never before played on the defensive side of the ball at any level.
It is with that perspective in mind that the second-year player’s comments stood out to me. He told Teresa Varley during OTAs recently for the team’s website that Bradley “is a great guy” who is really helping him to develop his game.
“He brings a lot of the aspects. He is bringing a lot more technique stuff to the game”, he said. “It’s always good to work on minor things. Some of the guys might feel like we know this, we know how to do that. But it’s always good to work on stuff and continually get better on whatever it is he has us doing”.
Although none of us actually have any firsthand knowledge of the Steelers’ defensive backs room, former defensive backs coach Carnell Lake was a frequent target of criticism, particularly over the course of the past four or so seasons.
Many have taken quickly to Bradley, not waiting to see if his teaching methods will produce any results. Not to diminish it, by any means. Truth be told, I am a pretty big fan of the signing and am optimistic about his ability to make positive change to the group.
But it’s quite notable that we have seen such a common theme from every single player who has talked about him. All of them have talked about how detail-oriented he is in teaching the fundamentals and technique. Joe Haden said that was particularly valuable for a pretty young secondary.
Bradley is one of just three new position coaches on the staff. Joining him on the defensive side of the ball is Karl Dunbar, who has replaced John Mitchell as the defensive line coach. Richard Mann retired as the wide receivers coach and has been replaced by Darryl Drake. But the defensive backs coach may well have the biggest impact of all three.