There is nobody that Pittsburgh Steelers are more looking forward to seeing this season than…defensive backs coach Tom Bradley. Or at least his impact on those fans will actually be seeing on the field. After former defensive backs coach Carnell Lake resigned his post in order to be able to spend more time with his family back on the west coast, the team used that opportunity to essentially hand-pick Bradley for the job.
Bradley, who spent the entirety of his decades-long coaching career prior to this season working in the college ranks, is regarded as a stickler for training the fundamentals of the game into players and focusing on tackling.
These are the two areas in particular that were of concern to the Steelers in the secondary a year ago, so when they opportunity arose for them to seek out a new defensive backs coach, they enquired about Bradley, who spent a long time a Penn State, and who is the brother of one of the team’s physicians.
He was hesitant at first to make the change, but spoke to Mike Tomlin and the next day took the job. He will now be tasked with bringing that detail-oriented approach—which we have already heard about extensively from his players—from the college level to the pros.
“When you’re a college guy, if you’ve been in college all those years, you have to start off sometimes with 17-year-old old kids, so you have to start off with fundamentals”, Gerry Dulac recorded him as saying. “I’ve already had that problem here — I assume they know something just because they’ve been in the league a while. So we’ve gone back and done a lot of basic things. It’s a lot of fundamental work”.
No doubt many will jump on that quote from Bradley and use it as an opportunity to place criticism upon previous defensive backs coach Lake. While it’s hard to know how deserving it is without more context, it’s probably fair to say that Bradley places more emphasis on details than his predecessor did.
He is, of course, used to teaching younger players, given that he spent the past several decades teaching young adults the game of football. He has a lot of experience working with 18 to 23-year-old men. So having players like Joe Haden and Morgan Burnett is something new for him.
“The older guys have done a great job helping the younger guys get better”, Bradley admitted, using rookie first-round safety Terrell Edmunds as an example. He said that he asked the rookie earlier in the day how things were going, and he said that the game was starting to slow down for him.
Edmunds is just one of several young players he has a great opportunity to mold, including starters Sean Davis, Artie Burns, and Mike Hilton. Throw in Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen, Marcus Allen, and all of the young Reserve/Future and undrafted free agent types, and he really should feel pretty close to home.