Under new defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, Indianapolis Colts linebacker, Bobby Okereke, can continue to develop into a star.
In the week that Gus Bradley has been the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, the talk has been about how much he and the defensive stars in Indianapolis can help each other.
The stars mentioned have been the three players that recently played in the Pro Bowl: DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, and Kenny Moore. Even Bradley has stated how lucky he is to have an elite leader at each unit of the defense.
While the partnership between Bradley and Indy’s Pro Bowl defenders is definitely exciting, they aren’t the only players that will benefit from Bradley’s arrival. It’s one player that will probably benefit more than anyone.
That player is linebacker, Bobby Okereke.
Bobby Okereke can thrive for Colts under Gus Bradley
Okereke, who was drafted by Indy in 2019, just finished his third season in the NFL and it was his best one yet. The departure of Anthony Walker in free agency allowed Okereke to be a full-time starter.
In the 17 games, Okereke led Indy with 132 tackles while adding three tackles for loss, one sack, and two interceptions. Throughout the season, he flashed an elite ability to play downhill when defending the run.
The reason Gus Bradley’s arrival can be big for Okereke is because he plays the middle linebacker position in the Colts defense. Historically, that’s the linebacker position that thrives under Bradley.
Middle linebackers excel under Gus Bradley
Going back to Bradley’s first time as an NFL defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks, David Hawthorne had a career season as the middle linebacker in 2009.
He recorded 117 tackles, 10 for a loss, four sacks, and added three interceptions.
Seattle would eventually draft Bobby Wagner in Bradley’s last season as coordinator. Wagner stepped in at middle linebacker and had 140 tackles, nine for a loss, two sacks, three interceptions, and helped the Legion of Boom defense arrive.
When Bradley was the head coach in Jacksonville, the Jaguars had Paul Posluszny. In three full seasons under Bradley, Posluszny made the only Pro Bowl appearance of his career and averaged 143 total tackles and 8 for a loss a year.
In Bradley’s latest stints as a defensive coordinator, he had Denzel Perryman as his middle linebacker, both with the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders.
Last season, Perryman was able to put it all together under Bradley’s leadership, recording 154 tackles, five for a loss, and made the first Pro Bowl of his career.
Now, Bradley will get to work with Okereke. Last season Okereke already took a big step and started trending up, this offseason, he will be able to build on that with Bradley.
In an IndyStar article that details Bradley’s arrival to Indianapolis, David Hawthorne is quoted saying, “Ultimately, Gus Bradley is a linebacker at heart. He has a soft spot for the linebacker room. He coached it, and he knows that’s the engine to the team.”
If Okereke can be impacted by Bradley’s tutelage and his system the way other linebackers were, Darius Leonard will no longer be the Colts’ only star linebacker.