Henderson, Nev.—The Las Vegas Raiders were a decent defense away from being a playoff team in 2020. That is why before the season even ended, they started the journey to make sure in 2021, they wouldn't be on the outside looking in at the NFL post-season.
To no surprise of anyone, Jon Gruden selected Gus Bradley to run his defense. The hard-nosed Bradley is known and respected as a no-nonsense leader who brings an attacking football style to Clark County.
Sports Illustrated's Raider Maven spoke with former NFL and college head coach Jim Mora, Jr. to get his analysis of Bradley's hire and what his influence might look like on the Silver and Black.
"When I was the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Gus was my defensive coordinator, my first defensive coordinator," was what an enthusiastic Mora said. "One of Gus's strengths is that he gets buy-in from his players. It is a very player-friendly system."
But don't mistake Mora's words about it being a player-friendly system as soft.
"You can become too complex sometimes and you can stymie the athleticism that your players have because they are having to think too much, rather than just react," Mora said.
That certainly plagued the Raiders in 2020. The Raiders often found themselves out of position on defense and spending massive amounts of time watching and not simply attacking the offense.
"Gus will implement a system that draws enough variance that offensive teams can't just draw a bead on it, but has enough carry over from call-to-call so that players can play fast and play with certainty," Mora said. "When you are certain, you can play fast."
For Raider Nation, those are some encouraging words.
Raider fans cut their teeth on the feared Silver and Black defense intimidating offenses, something Mora sees returning.
"You can play downhill, you can cut it loose," Mora said. "Gus does a great job creating that type of scheme, but he does an even greater job of selling it to the players so he gets buy-in."
Changing a scheme and style in high school or college is easy. But in the NFL, dealing with grown men, that isn't easy. That's something Mora thinks people shouldn't worry about in Las Vegas.
"He gets buy-in. So they say, 'Yeah, this makes sense to me. Yeah, I get this, and yeah, I want to play for this guy.' He's an excellent motivator," all praise from Mora.
But Bradley has some areas of concern, but Mora doesn't think they are deal-breakers.
"A times some may say he is a little cheesy, but the players they like him, they want to play for him, and they want to perform for him.
"They trust him."
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