This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS – Gus Bradley has been here before.

He’s been that new coordinator assigned the task of retooling or completely renovating a defense that wasn’t good enough the previous year. That was the case with the Las Vegas Raiders last season, the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 and the Seattle Seahawks in 2009.

But this time it’s different.

“That’s what my wife said,’’ Bradley said Wednesday with a hearty laugh. “No, it is.’’

He isn’t inheriting a Raiders defense that ranked 30th in points allowed and gave up at least 30 10 times in 2020, or a Chargers group that ranked 29th in scoring in ‘16. And he isn’t taking over a Seattle defense that was one of the NFL’s worst in ’08: 30th in yards and 25th in points.

Bradley, 55 and oozing with energy, is assuming control of a Colts’ defense that clearly had its flaws last season – an inconsistent pass rush and too often failing to protect a fourth-quarter lead come to mind – but was tied-9th in scoring (21.5 points per game), 10th against the run (109.1 yards per game) and 2nd in takeaways (33).

It’s a defense that features a Pro Bowler at each level: tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Darius Leonard and nickel cornerback Kenny Moore II.

“It takes a skillset, a presence, hard work and a mentality to reach that level,’’ Bradley said. “And to have that at each position group is unique to walk into a situation like that.

“I know there are more leaders than just those three, but to know that and have an idea of what it looks like to put it together like that is a good sign.

“This team now, there’s some skill.’’

Clearly, the cupboard isn’t bare and an overhaul isn’t necessary.

Bradley’s charged not with fixing what’s broken, but addressing the deficiencies and taking the defense to another level.

The starting point is markedly better than with the Raiders, Chargers or Seahawks simply because of the reason for the vacancy he’s filled. Matt Eberflus, the Colts’ coordinator the past four seasons, was named the Chicago Bears head coach two weeks ago.

“Matt Eberflus and I have had a relationship for many years,’’ Bradley said. “We met together, talked defense together, and I know what he’s instilled into this defense and has done a great job.

“So, our hope is to add to what he’s already built in his time he was here.’’

Over the coming days, Bradley will form his staff. There’s every reason to believe he’ll bring some assistants that were with him with the Raiders and Chargers, a group that includes Ron Milus (defensive backs), Richard Smith (linebackers), Ryan Milus (defensive quality control) and Addison Lynch (defensive backs).

“We’re putting that together now,’’ Bradley said.

Over the coming months, he’ll introduce his scheme to the players. The foundation is the Hawk-3 he brought to Seattle in ’09 and was the genesis of the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom.

“People . . . would say it’s Cover-3,’’ he said. “There some principles there, but it has evolved. Each team runs a split safety, each team plays man, each team plays a single-high. How you play those, that’s where it varies a little bit.

“That’s what we’ve evolved to. Before it was more of a landmark, ball out, break. But it’s now evolved to where it’s more of a match principle based on some pre-snap and post-snap indicators.’’

There are some undeniable pillars to a Bradley-directed defense.

SWEET SIX: “It’s stop the run, eliminate explosives, affect the quarterback, win on third down, own the red zone, it’s all about the ball,’’ he said.

AFFECT THE QB: “People just put the stat to how many sacks, but it’s more than that,’’ he said. “It’s getting him off the spot. It’s can you make the quarterback hitch where there’s some indecision to where you can allow the rush to get there? You have to be able to affect the quarterback.’’

ENERGIZED D: “A defense that plays with great effort,’’ he said, mirroring one of Eberflus’ tenets. “Effort-based defense. Great effort, great enthusiasm, great toughness, mentally and physically tough. A team that communicates and . . . a defensive unit that plays smart, makes good decisions.’’

MESSAGE TO THE PLAYERS: “It’s fast, physical and (get the) ball out,’’ he said. “It’s not complicated. Everything is designed to get the ball, and we won’t put so much in that it eliminates our ability to play fast.’’

BUILD AN ELITE DEFENSE: “You want to dictate the outcome of a game, and that’s what those defenses do,’’ he said. “That’s what we’re striving for. Where we’re at on the pendulum or the scale, we’ll see.’’

After assembling his staff, Bradley will dive headlong into evaluating his defensive roster. He’s already been schooled on his new environment.

As soon as the Colts expressed an interest in Bradley, he and Philip Rivers had a long discussion about what Indy had to offer.

“There’s just a very close relationship, and he means a lot to me,’’ Bradley said. “We talk very, very often.

Bradley and Rivers were together for four years with the Chargers, and Rivers, obviously, had first-hand experience with the Colts as their starting quarterback in 2020.

“Once he found out that I was interviewing here, it wasn’t, ‘Well, I’m going to get involved in this,’’’ Bradley said. “I think he did maybe the opposite. He said, ‘I’m going to tell you what I think of the organization.’

“I can tell you it wasn’t five seconds.’’

Rivers did a hard sell on the Colts.

“It was a long talk about first of all, Frank (Reich) and Chris (Ballard) and the Irsays and the ownership here, the community, the training room and the equipment room and the locker room, the people, and it just kept going on and on.

“It was like, ‘It can’t be this good, can it?’ It was one of those type things . . . you surely felt that it was a pretty special place based on him and then just through the interview process.’’

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.