Gus Bradley brings Jaguars to CenturyLink Field on Sunday

Posted Sep 18, 2013

Gus Bradley helped create the Seahawks’ top-ranked defense. But this week his task as head coach of the Jaguars is finding ways to move the ball against it in Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field.

As Gus Bradley the first-year head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars was preparing the game plan on Tuesday for Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field, Gus Bradley the former Seahawks defensive coordinator interrupted the process.

“It is weird,” Bradley said Wednesday during a conference-call interview. “I watched the offense and defense (on video). Then I was with the offensive staff and I said, ‘What’s ‘Deuce’ (Earl Thomas) doing there? He can’t do that.’ You feel yourself saying comments like that.”

It’s very understandable. Bradley was the high-energy coordinator of the Seahawks defense the past four seasons – the first on Jim Mora’s staff, the next three on Pete Carroll’s staff as Bradley was retained after Carroll was hired in 2010.

So Bradley has seen the Seahawks’ defense grow into a unit that this week leads the NFL in points allowed (10), average yards allowed (230.0) and average passing yards allowed (113.0). The growth is rooted in the development of the young players he helped develop – like Thomas, the All-Pro free safety Bradley dubbed “Deuce” during his rookie season in 2010.

“Those guys are playing really well – really well,” Bradley said of the Seahawks’ defense that held the Carolina Panthers to seven points in the season opener and the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers to three points in Sunday night’s home opener.

“Dan Quinn and the whole defensive staff really have really got them flying around and they’re impressive to watch.”

Ah, Dan Quinn. He and Bradley came to the Seahawks together in 2009 – Bradley as the coordinator, Quinn as the defensive line coach. Quinn left after the 2010 season to become defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. But when the Jaguars hired Bradley in January, Carroll went to what he knew – and wanted – in finding a replacement. So Quinn is in, again, but this time as the coordinator.

They will be reunited at CenturyLink Field on Sunday, when Bradley will be on the visiting team sideline and Quinn in the coaches’ box.

“That happens all the time in games,” Quinn said. “You go around the league and we have good friends on all the teams. Once the game starts, it’s a game.

“Gus is a friend before the game; he’s a friend after the game. But when we’re going against him we’re going to battle just as hard as we ever would, whether we were going against each other when he was at Tampa and I was at Miami or in this game.”

That last part is a reference to the time Bradley spent as an assistant coach with the Buccaneers (2006-08), while Quinn was an assistant with the Dolphins (2005-06).

So here they are again – friends as foes, at least for three hours on Sunday.

With the Jaguars off to an 0-2 start and ranked last in the league in offense, and the Seahawks flying high at 2-0 behind a defense he helped build, has Bradley had any of those what-have-I-done twinges?

“People ask me that a lot, ‘Gus, look at Seattle’s success,’ ” he said. “I’m just happy for those guys. I’m not going to stop caring for those guys up there. They’re very important and they gave us a whole lot. And I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now if it wasn’t for those guys. So I hold them in high regard.

“But this is a new step. And I’m really excited about our organization. We’re not where we want to be yet. But it doesn’t stop us from trying to get there as fast as we can.”     

The Jaguars are calling a hotel in Fremont, Calif., home this week and practicing at San Jose State to prepare for everything the Seahawks will throw at them, rather than returning to Jacksonville after Sunday’s game against the Raiders in Oakland and then flying back to Seattle on Friday.

“It was unique in that we had back-to-back (West Coast games),” said Bradley, with an eye to the game the Jaguars will play next month in London against the 49ers. “We’re going to be out there for a week. So we just thought this would be a good opportunity for our team. We’ve got a lot of new faces on the team. To be out for a week not only puts our full concentration on the game, but I think we’ve really done a lot of things together. I think we’ve grown to know each other and grown closer.

“I didn’t anticipate that right away, but I’m seeing that take place. So that’s been good for us.”

How good will be played out on Sunday, when Gus Bradley the head coach of the Jaguars brings his new team into a game against his old team.