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Raiders-Colts Week 10 preview: Gus Bradley’s defense is key to game

Former Las Vegas DC brings stability to Indy

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams Joint Practice
Gus Bradley
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, as the Las Vegas Raiders prepare to host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, most of the attention is on the opponent’s offense.

That’s understandable, of course, since the Colts are in an unique situation. After head coach Frank Reich was fired Monday, former Colts center Jeff Saturday will make his debut as their interim head coach at the Raiders on Sunday. He has never coached beyond the high-school level and now he will be managing an NFL sideline in two days. His offensive play caller is Parks Frazier, who has never called a play in the league.

It’s chaos in Indianapolis and, in theory, the Raiders should romp at Allegiant Stadium.

However, if the Colts have a chance to stay in this game, a familiar face in Las Vegas may be the reason. The Colts’ defense is led by Gus Bradley, who was the Raiders’ defensive coordinator last season.

The Colts’ defense is allowing the fifth fewest yards a game and it could keep the offense in the game Sunday. The Raiders’ coaching staff respects Bradley.

“Coach [Gus] Bradley, obviously in his time here, you guys knew him pretty well. He’s a really good football coach, experienced coach. Every stop he’s been at his defense plays extremely hard,” Las Vegas offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi said this week. “They play fast and they get the football. Obviously, they have disruptive players in DeForest Buckner, who’s arguably one of the best defensive linemen in the game. And then you have players in the back end. Steph [Stephon] Gilmore is playing at a high level and obviously he plays very confident football for them. And players on all levels; linebackers play fast, defensive linemen get up the field, and they play sound in their coverage. They don’t do a lot of things, but they are all connected. They all play 11 connected because they play fast, and they get to the football. I think you guys saw that on Sunday in their performance against New England.”

Lombardi said the offensive coaches may talk to some of the Las Vegas defenders who played under Bradley last year to help collect more intel for the game, but it won’t be a focal point.

“I mean, I think as a coaching staff obviously you can ask some of those things, but you really just focus on the tape,” Lombardi said. You let the tape tell the story for yourself. Early in the season it’s a little more difficult for a new staff to go in there and see what the tape is showing, but now you get into Week 9 and Week 10 of the season, and they have 9-10 games of each team, and you can really see kind of the trends and that type of stuff. So, really you let the tape tell the story and focus really on that in terms of the adjustments because you can pretty much watch the whole season if you need to, to find out, ‘Okay, they’re going to adjust to this this way, or play this certain scheme this way.’ And obviously they’re going to have a specific game plan for us this week, so that could change. And whatever they did last year, was last year. So, we’ll let the tape tell the story.”