NFC West: Monte Kiffin

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is a candidate to succeed Andy Reid as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach.

The Eagles announced they have received permission to interview Bradley next week.

Bradley has been known to make positive impressions.

Former Seahawks coach Jim Mora had been expected to name Dan Quinn as his defensive coordinator in 2009. Mora changed his mind after interviewing Bradley. It was nothing against Quinn, who advanced on his own and now serves as defensive coordinator for the University of Florida. Bradley simply impressed Mora beyond reasonable expectations. Mora named Bradley coordinator and Quinn to coach the defensive line.

Longtime NFL assistant Monte Kiffin, who had worked with Mora on the New Orleans Saints staff in 1995, had recommended Bradley for the coordinator's job.

Mora explained it this way in 2009: "Monte says, 'J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of, if not, the finest football coaches I have ever worked with. He's an A-plus. He's a once-in-a-lifetime coach. You need to talk to him.' He said, 'J.L., this guy is special. You have to bring him in.' "

When the Seahawks fired Mora unexpectedly after one season, incoming coach Pete Carroll kept Bradley in place as coordinator, citing an endorsement from Kiffin. Kiffin worked with Carroll in Minnesota and with Bradley in Tampa Bay.

I don't know how many coordinators have stuck around when one head coach replaced another and all three men traced their backgrounds to the same side of the ball. Usually, a new coach comes in with new ideas and specific people in mind for the highest-ranking positions. New coaches usually are looking to break from the past, not build upon it.

Bradley's staying power through a tumultuous time in Seattle speaks well of him.

The chart shows Seattle's defensive stats over the past four seasons. The row for "Defensive EPA" refers to expected points added by the defense. Negative numbers are better than positive ones.

2012 NFL Preview: Seattle Seahawks

August, 31, 2012
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Five notes on the Seattle Seahawks from our recently published 2012 preview page:
1. Conventional wisdom is irrelevant: Coach Pete Carroll disdains it. Taking a three-way quarterback competition through minicamps and training camp provided a high-profile example. There are many others. The Seahawks' starting cornerbacks are 6-foot-4 and 6-3. They committed a $35 million contract to a 330-pound defensive end (Red Bryant). They committed a first-round draft choice to another defensive end weighing only 245 pounds (Bruce Irvin). They took a college defensive tackle, rookie J.R. Sweezy, and ran him at guard with their first-team offensive line during the preseason. And it worked. So, when Carroll tells you something that doesn't sound quite right -- such as starting a 5-foot-10 rookie at quarterback -- take him seriously.

2. Gus Bradley is a name to remember: The Seahawks' defensive coordinator warrants a look as a potential head coach down the line. He has shown an ability, with Carroll and staff, to adapt and maximize personnel. How good must Bradley be? He was already the Seahawks' defensive coordinator under former coach Jim Mora. Carroll thought enough of him to keep Bradley in the role. That's pretty unusual during a staff changeover. Mora actually had another candidate in mind to be his coordinator back in 2009, only to have Bradley blow him away during interviews. Monte Kiffin is the common link. Kiffin recommended Bradley to Mora. Kiffin and Carroll worked together years ago and were close.

3. The OL tends to change: Seattle's starting lineups under Carroll have featured four players at left tackle, seven at left guard, three at center, six at right guard and four at right tackle over two seasons. That's a lot of shuffling. There could be more to come. Left guard John Moffitt had elbow surgery recently. Former right tackle James Carpenter will become a candidate at left guard once he returns from knee surgery, perhaps during the season. Keeping left tackle Russell Okung healthy is key.

4. Under 30 please: Defensive end Chris Clemons is the Seahawks' only projected starter age 30 or older. He turns 31 in October, and is coming off consecutive 11-sack seasons. Starters Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Okung and possibly Doug Baldwin (if he starts) are not even 25 years old. And rookie starting quarterback Russell Wilson is only 23. Carroll, as a longtime college coach, isn't afraid to go young.

5. QB search works both ways: Not only did Seattle need to find its own starting quarterback this offseason, but the team needed to make sure it could find opposing quarterbacks as well. The Seahawks had only 33 sacks last season. Linebacker Leroy Hill ranked second on the team with only four. Seattle's already-strong secondary would improve with help from the pass rush.
Earlier: Seahawks Camp Confidential.

Parting shot from Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.: "Their defense is better than ever. Adding a piece like Jason Jones goes under the radar, but it's a huge addition. There are only five or 10 really good interior pass-rushers. They didn't use him right in Tennessee. Seattle has enough defensive linemen with Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane that they can use Jones perfectly, on third down as a pass-rusher, particularly with Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons screaming of the edges. I really like their third-down defense more now. And they are much better at quarterback -- much better than they were last year and much better than Arizona. The Cardinals would kill for Matt Flynn, but he can't even start in Seattle. The two keys to Seattle that people don't talk about enough are Russell Okung and Sidney Rice needing to stay healthy. If they do, they are good enough on offense considering the division they are in. I like both those guys a lot when they are right."
Todd Wash's shared history with Gus Bradley in Monte Kiffin's Tampa Bay defense made him a natural hire for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.

Wash, announced Tuesday as the Seahawks' defensive line coach, broke into the NFL with Tampa Bay when Kiffin was the Bucs' defensive coordinator in 2007. Bradley coached the Bucs' linebackers when Wash was coaching their defensive line.

Kiffin and Carroll were together with the Minnesota Vikings in the 1980s. Carroll referenced their shared coaching lineage when explaining why he retained Bradley as defensive coordinator from the Seahawks' previous staff.

Wash replaces Dan Quinn, who left to become defensive coordinator at Florida. Wash was the Bucs' defensive line coach for the past three seasons. He was a quality control coach in 2007.

The Bucs' defensive line struggled in 2010.

In November, NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas offered the following thoughts when asked whether the team should fire Wash:
The Bucs are 5-3 and you’re talking about firing assistant coaches? Give it some time and try to be realistic. The Bucs drafted defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price with their first two draft picks and second-year pro Roy Miller has been one of the starting defensive tackles. Price got hurt. McCoy hasn’t been dominant, but it’s not realistic to expect him to be dominant right off the bat. Besides that, he’s got nothing around him.

The Bucs probably have the league’s worst set of defensive ends. They knew coming in that defensive end was not a position of strength and I’m sure that position will be addressed in the offseason. I can’t put the blame on a coach when he’s got nothing to work with. His job the rest of this season is to keep working on McCoy. Next season, the Bucs can bring in help at defensive end and McCoy should take a big step forward.

I don't know much about Wash. The Seahawks thought highly of Quinn, enough so that Carroll held him over from the previous staff.

Seattle also announced that assistant secondary coach Kris Richard would coach cornerbacks, and defensive quality control coach Rocky Seto would coach safeties. They replace secondary coach Jerry Gray, who left for a job at the University of Texas.

Richard played for the Seahawks. He and Seto came to Seattle with Carroll from USC last offseason.

Around the NFC West: Carroll's staff

January, 18, 2010
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Albert Breer of the Boston Globe checks in with a few familiar names, including Robert Kraft and Steve Sidwell, regarding Pete Carroll's chances for success in Seattle. They think Carroll has a better chance now than he had with the Patriots because the coach will have more control over personnel. Kraft: "I think that's fair. That experience was very helpful for me, because I saw the dissension that could be there between personnel and coaching: 'Well, the coach isn’t playing the guy right' or 'He didn’t get me the right personnel.' Every situation is different. The one thing I learned is I wanted to minimize division from within. I don’t think when Pete was here the organization was as supportive of him as it could’ve been to allow him to function in an ideal manner. Sometimes you meet special people, but it’s just not at the right time of your life."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the differences between pro and college coaching, with an eye toward what it means for Carroll. Lofa Tatupu: "The man can coach, bottom line. That's pretty much what I'm going to leave it at."

Also from O'Neil: Kippy Brown is reportedly leaving the University of Tennessee to coach the Seahawks' receivers.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com passes along Carroll's comments confirming Gus Bradley's retention as defensive coordinator in Seattle. Carroll will be heavily involved in the defense. Like Bradley, Carroll worked previously with Monte Kiffin. With Jerry Gray expected to coach the secondary and Alex Gibbs onboard as offensive line coach, Carroll appears to be putting together a strong staff.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Gibbs' hiring is critical for the Seahawks. Boling: "Yes, Carroll was the high-profile hire, drawing more national attention than just about anybody the Seahawks could have named. And the acquisition of the general manager -- probably this week -- will go a long way to determining how the team goes about elevating its level of talent. But the hiring of Gibbs as offensive line coach (along with the title of assistant head coach), does two things: 1) It makes a statement about ownership’s commitment to upgrading the staff, and 2) It makes this team immeasurably tougher."

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic counts the reasons for Kurt Warner to return in 2010. Warner on his thought process last offseason: "A few days after [the season] was over and I was away from it, I missed the game already, and I was excited about going back and playing. If I'm still thinking about it a few days after the season, then it's not out of my system yet."

Odeen Domingo and Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic say the Cardinals' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie might have suffered ligament damage to his knee Saturday.

Also from Domingo: Karlos Dansby says leaving the Cardinals as a free agent would be difficult. Dansby: "I've been here since we played at Sun Devil (Stadium). We were at Sun Devil in 107-degree games at night. It was tough, man. But we fought through it. If I have to leave, that's the way the game goes. I've seen a lot of people come, a lot of people go. I've been around for a while. That's how this business goes. Wed' like to have everybody back and come back strong, try to make another run at it. But unfortunately, it might not pan out like that."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals view their season as a success, even though they lost before reaching their goals. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "There are a lot of teams that would switch with us. We are one of the top eight teams in the league. I consider it a successful season for us. Based on what I read or what I hear, we can improve in all areas; we did a lot of things wrong this year. So hopefully we can clean those up and get better. I think that is what the next weeks, months [are for], our process of evaluating our team. Nothing is ever perfect. We did a lot of things well; we did a lot of things not so well."

Also from Somers: Notes and thoughts from the Cardinals-Saints game, including how Jerheme Urban's fumble could affect his future with the team. I had the same thought.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks at the role injuries played in the Cardinals' ultimate demise.

Also from Urban: Cardinals players aren't sure how much the roster will change next season.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Warner has every reason to retire. Thirty-one NFL teams surely agree. Miklasz: "There's nothing left for Warner to gain, but he has much to lose. Kurt and wife Brenda have seven children at home. As Warner told me in an interview earlier this year, he wants to be healthy and vibrant and immersed in their lives."

Also from Miklasz: Michael Vick would bring pizzazz to the Rams. Miklasz: "The Rams need a starting quarterback. The Rams need a lot of things, as evidenced by their 6-42 record and last-place NFL ranking in points scored over the last three seasons. So yes, there is a fit. And there are some obvious connections in play here. Rams GM Billy Devaney was part of the Atlanta organization during Vick's career there and visited Vick in prison. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur are former assistants to Eagles coach Andy Reid and they trust his judgment. If Reid recommends Vick, Spagnuolo will listen." Vick's price would define the risks associated with acquiring him. The Rams should not invest their future in Vick, but if they can get him at a reasonable price and they feel as though he isn't a significant risk for off-field embarrassment, the move would be easier to justify.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Warner's retirement would certainly help the 49ers' push to win the NFC West title. Barrows: "If Warner retires, you'd have to consider the 49ers the favorites in the NFC West. Seattle, after all, is overhauling its coaching staff and front office. The Rams are where the 49ers were four years ago. Of course, the offseason could bring other, not-as-pleasant surprises that would change the division dynamic, such as Donovan McNabb winding up in Arizona or Seattle." The way Matt Leinart played in relief this season suggests the Cardinals would have a hard time maintaining their success on offense, at least in its current form. Leinart had multiple changes to look good, but he rarely did. The scoring drive Leinart led at Tennessee was probably the high point for him during the 2009 season.

Around the NFC West: Vick to the Rams?

January, 15, 2010
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Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders whether Michael Vick could be an option at quarterback for the Rams. Thomas: "As long as Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb are in Philly, Vick won't get a chance to start for the Eagles. But what about St. Louis? What seemed totally far-fetched last summer, as Vick was about to get out of prison, no longer seems like such a longshot in St. Louis. Because Vick remains under contract with Philadelphia, Rams general manager Billy Devaney can't speak publicly on the topic. But Devaney has consistently said the team will explore all options to improve the club. He has made it a point in interviews to note that the 'four pillars' approach is being softened this offseason. In other words, the Rams are more likely to take a chance on a so-called 'character-risk' player than last year at this time. Devaney worked for the Atlanta Falcons before coming to St. Louis, so he's very familiar with Vick. In fact, Devaney visited Vick in prison while Vick was serving 18 months for running a dogfighting operation."

Also from Thomas: The Rams have signed tight end Eric Butler and linebacker Dominic Douglas. Thomas: "Briefly promoted to the 53-man roster for a few days in late November following fullback Mike Karney’s neck injury, Butler spent the rest of the season on the Rams’ practice squad. Douglas spent seven games on the Rams’ active roster, and five weeks on the practice squad."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times shares what he expects to happen with the Seahawks' coaching staff. Defensive line coach Dan Quinn is expected to stay. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley also could stay. One thing to note: New coach Pete Carroll was with the Vikings when Monte Kiffin was there in the late 1980s. Kiffin mentored Bradley in Tampa Bay. That's part of what Carroll meant when he referred to the defensive coaching lineage he shares with some assistants from Jim Mora's staff.

Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com says colleague Pat Kirwan could join the Seahawks as an assistant to new coach Pete Carroll, but not as a leading decision-maker. LaCanfora: "Carroll remains interested in close friend and former NFL personnel executive Pat Kirwan to be a part of the organization, but sources said the NFL.com analyst wouldn’t be in a top personnel role. Instead, he would be an assistant to the head coach should he come to Seattle."

Bob McManaman and Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic check in with Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin, who missed practice again while recuperating from a sprained ankle. Boldin: "Everything is the same, nothing has really changed. It's better than it was a couple days ago, though, so I'm optimistic."

Also from Somers: Ken Whisenhunt and Sean Payton have turned around losing programs.

More from Somers: Expect Karlos Dansby to rake in big bucks this offseason. The $9.678 million Dansby earned this season wasn't bad, either.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' pass rush could be key against New Orleans. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis on Drew Brees: "He's such a quick decision-maker, and a guy like that, the ball is going to be out of his hand before you get to him. A lot of teams in the NFC tournament right now have quick decision-makers with high accuracy and a lot of weapons to go to. It's tough to sack guys like that. You can have the worst offensive line in the world - and they've got a good one - and he'll still make a quick decision and get rid of it. That's going to be a big challenge for us."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee updates the 49ers' search for a special-teams coach, noting that Bobby April took a job with the Eagles. That means former Eagles special-teams coach Ted Daisher is available. Bruce DeHaven, the Seahawks' special-teams coach in recent seasons, also appears to be available.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says his All-Pro vote at tight end went to Vernon Davis. Maiocco: "What pushed it over the top for me in Davis' favor was his blocking. In my opinion, he was the best all-around tight end in the NFL in 2009." Hard to disagree, although Davis' expanded role as a receiver meant he wasn't as involved in blocking. Davis was at times a dominant pass protector in 2008.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci would be a good choice as the next coach of the Raiders. Kawakami: "For a while Tuesday, it looked as if USC was about to hire Mooch. But stunningly, Lane Kiffin swooped in from Tennessee to grab the Los Angeles mega-job. Believe me, nobody is more startled by this development than Al (Davis), who loves the USC program and, to put it mildly, does not love Kiffin. But now Mariucci is without a team. Gee, is there one out there? Mariucci has a good history with skittery quarterbacks, so Al might be able to envision a solid Mooch-JaMarcus Russell pairing; plus, with his 49ers background, Mariucci could sell some tickets."

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Marvel Smith's expected retirement leaves the 49ers' offensive line worse off than it was when last season ended. Maiocco: "It is believed that the 49ers are holding out hope Smith will reconsider his decision and still be able to fill a role as a backup at both offensive tackle positions." The 49ers should be OK if Adam Snyder plays a full season. They would be in trouble if Barry Sims opened the regular season as a starter. With Sims starting Saturday night, the 49ers might need Vernon Davis to help protect.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis grew up a Cowboys fan in a big way.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the first half was an "embarrassment" for the Cardinals against Green Bay. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "Guys came in here and didn't really care about the game. Green Bay came in here on a mission, and that was to prove they were a good football team. They said publicly they thought this would be a good mark for them, because they thought we were a good football team, but we weren't a very good football team tonight."

Also from Somers: Beanie Wells' performance provided a rare bright spot for the Cardinals.

More from Somers: While Whisenhunt was close to seething, the Packers felt great about their performance. Somers: "After getting four sacks last week, the starting defense failed to get to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. He had too much time to throw, completing 14 of 19 for 258 yards and three touchdowns. In one half."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Whisenhunt was "extremely disappointed" in his team's performance. Urban: "The Cards' starting defense, which hadn't allowed a point, was run over in the first half, allowing a stunning 357 yards."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers keys for the Seahawks heading into their game against the Chiefs. A little more from the running game would help.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Said Monte Kiffin: "I knew he was going to be a coordinator, and someday a head coach. With some people, you can just feel it. He's outstanding."

Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says the team expects its zone-blocking scheme to hit stride after six or seven games. Offensive cooridnator Greg Knapp: "It's the same transition I went through in Atlanta and the same transition I went through in Oakland. It's not going to happen as fast and as much as it was talked about. It will take -- I don't know -- five, six, seven games into the season before the guys finally get comfortable with it."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com sizes up Michael Bennett's chances for earning a roster spot on the Seahawks' defensive line.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Kyle Boller's gritty play has earned respect from Rams teammates. The quarterback bounced up quickly following a crushing hit against the Bengals, then assured teammates the team was about to score. He was right. Guard Richie Incognito: "Oh, he's a tough kid. He popped right up. He got right back in the huddle and he kept going. It didn't even faze him. I would've taken a second to shake that bad boy off; he took it right on the chin."

Also from Thomas: a look at which players might earn spots on the Rams' 53-man roster. He places defensive tackle Hollis Thomas on the bubble.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jason Smith is taking small steps toward the Rams' starting lineup. Smith: "I never look at my draft status or what (outside) people think. I feel that I'm progressing at a steady pace."

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Eagles' blitz schemes will test the Cardinals. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson: "He develops a smart defense. All the players on that defense understand what he's trying to get done with each call. You don't always see that everywhere, but with him, you see it. He's a pain to play against, for that reason." 

Also from Somers, with Bob McManaman: Bertrand Berry appreciates the Cardinals' success after enduring four losing seasons with the team.

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald remains a bit of a mystery, choosing to keep a low profile.

The East Valley Tribune carries a 2005 story from the Philadelphia Daily News explaining how the Eagles once planned a move to Phoenix.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Jim Mora sounded like a political visionary in addressing reporters during Mora's first news conference as the Seahawks' head coach.

Also from Farnsworth: Mora heeds advice from Monte Kiffin in hiring Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times explains what Mora plans to do differently in his second stint as an NFL head coach.

Also from O'Neil: A quick look at changes to the Seahawks' coaching staff.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times emerged from Mora's news conference convinced the Seahawks hired the right man. Brewer: "He was free, unrestrained, raw at times, as he talked about family, football and learning from mistakes. And yet, though he revealed himself with incomparable energy, he rarely stammered. He managed to be smooth and real at once, a levelheaded crowd pleaser."

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Mora showed respect for Mike Holmgren while remaining true to his own style and personality.

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune says there's no denying the energy and passion Mora brings to the job.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch draws comparisons between Rams coaching candidate Leslie Frazier and outgoing Colts coach Tony Dungy. Thomas: "But Dungy is not Frazier's only coaching influence. As a cornerback for the Chicago Bears a quarter-century ago, Frazier played for one of the game's most successful and most colorful defensive coordinators in Buddy Ryan. Ryan's flamboyant personality didn't rub off on Frazier, but Ryan's flexibility and willingness to listen to his players did."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has praise for the Rams' coaching search, even if conducting interviews in Los Angeles might not sit well with everyone.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams appear most likely to hire a defensive head coach.

Niners scout Todd Brunner checks in from East-West Shrine week, where Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher is among those enjoying a strong week.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says Allen Rossum hopes to re-sign with the team.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in with Vantz Singletary, nephew of the head coach and new 49ers assistant.

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