Pittsburgh Steelers fans are hoping that one of the most significant changes or additions made this offseason was the signing of Tom Bradley as the team’s new defensive backs coach. A rookie at the NFL level but with a long resume in college, he is in his first season with the Steelers and has made an impression on his players.
Bradley was recently interviewed for the team’s website, something I’ve already touched on, but, frankly, it was a really good and engaging one that I want to talk about more, because he gives some detailed and informative answers.
Such as when he was asked to talk about veteran cornerback Joe Haden and what he brings to the table.
Haden, a former Pro Bowler, was signed by the Steelers just before the 2017 regular season began after the Cleveland Browns suddenly released him. He has not even been with the team for a full year yet but is clearly a leader in his group.
“Great leadership, great professionalism”, Bradley began in describing Haden. “Joe is a guy who when he’s sitting in a meeting, he’s very attentive to every little detail. He understands he has to look at all of the little things to make himself a better player”.
While Haden is a very gifted athlete—and also finally appears to be at a point in the later stages of his career in which he is regularly healthy and not recovering from injuries during the offseason—he understands that his success is just as much dependent upon his mind as his feet.
“Joe understands as he watches video that inches can make a big difference, so he’s looking for every edge he can possibly get. Not only from the receiver, but it’s also about understanding formations”, Bradley said about his experience with Haden in studying film.
“Where is the quarterback? Is he under center? Is he in the shotgun? What’s the down-and-distance? What does that offensive tackle look like in his stance? Is he leaning back? Is he leaning forward? He’s trying to eliminate a lot of variables before the play even starts”.
Equally important is the fact that he also passes that knowledge on to the rest of his group. And given how young and inexperienced much of the rest of the defensive backs are—including the ones who are actually on the field and playing in critical roles—that is big for the team.
Artie Burns was a junior when he came out. He’s going into his third year and his second as a full-time starter. Sean Davis is also heading into his second season as a full-timer and third overall, while Mike Hilton is in year two, along with Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen, and Terrell Edmunds is a rookie.
To have veterans like Haden and Morgan Burnett to help them along provides the balance that this secondary will need to have success this season, something that Bradley recognizes and appreciates from his older players, even if they are newer to the team.