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Jon Gruden feels good about having Gus Bradley by his side again: ‘It’ll be more competitive’

The pair of Raiders coaches go way back

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers-Training Camp
Gus Bradley
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When Jon Gruden was looking for a defensive coordinator to replace Paul Guenther after he was fired, there was really no drama.

Gus Bradley was always the favorite. Once Bradley and the Los Angeles Chargers’ staff were fired in January, Bradley was Gruden’s guy to take over the struggling Las Vegas Raiders defense. Bradley worked under Gruden as linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2006-08.

So, the pairing has been natural. Recently, Gruden expressed pleasure and satisfaction about how the defense has made strides under Bradley during the offseason.

“I feel pretty good. A lot of our practices were instruction based,” Gruden said. “We’ll see where we are when we lay the leather down in training camp. But Gus Bradley, [defensive backs coach Ron] Milus, [defensive line coach Rod] Marinelli, our coaches have done a great job on defense. I think we’re better. I think we have a chance to be much better and a lot deeper. It’ll be more competitive.”

A key, Gruden said, was how well and how quickly Bradley has connected with the Las Vegas players.

“I think it’s off to a great start. (Dealing with players) That’s one of his strengths,” Gruden said of Bradley. “He’s a people person. He’s a great communicator. He also has a staff that’s been with him for a long time. I think that’s the biggest thing that he has going for him. A lot of coordinators get hired and they have to implement their defense with a lot of coaches they’ve never worked with. Richard Smith is a great linebacker coach. Ron Milus is a great secondary coach. Marinelli just got the Lifelong Achievement Award for the defensive line coach. So, we have a great defensive staff and Gus is a great communicator. So far, so good.”

Now, let’s see if it all translate to field improvement this fall.