When Carnell Lake decided to step down as the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs coach, many wondered who would take over coaching the secondary. Many names were thrown around, and the Steelers finally settled on Tom Bradley, a name which likely rung a bell with people in and around the keystone state.
Bradley took over for Joe Paterno amidst the scandal prior to Paterno’s death, and also spent time at West Virginia and UCLA. Notice among this resume you see zero NFL teams.
This was a big knock on Bradley for the Steelers’ global fan base. Coaching in the NFL is different compared to the college ranks, and while this is true it doesn’t mean it is a negative. At least according to Mike Tomlin it isn’t.
“I love the fact he has no professional coaching experience,” Tomlin told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I wanted a teacher, a guy with a teacher’s mentality. We got a lot of young people in the secondary, and the development of those people is critical for us. The fact he doesn’t have NFL experience isn’t a negative for me. Quite the opposite.”
This is coming from a coach who has no prior experience with Bradley, unlike Randy Fichtner, the team’s new offensive coordinator, who has roots intertwined with Tomlin back in their college days.
What Bradley apparently lacks in NFL experience, he gains in coaching defense against college offenses which are slowly bleeding their way into the professional game.
“That’s not a formal element [why he was hired], but there are unintended benefits from hiring a guy with his expertise,” Tomlin said. “Some of the issues that are prevalent in college, whether [run-pass options] or the spread, he’s dealt with first-hand.”
When you look at it from that perspective, Tomlin has a great point. Either way, Bradley will be dealing with a group of players who are young, athletic and ready to run. Artie Burns, Sean Davis, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton will be joined with experience from Morgan Burnett and Joe Haden to make up possibly the most star-studded defensive secondary the Steelers have assembled in decades.
Here is to hoping Bradley turns his lack of experience into immediate success at the NFL level.