Joe Brady has had an interesting rise up the coaching ranks in a very short amount of time. The former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator, Brady is from Everglades High School in South Florida. Brady played his college ball at William & Mary as a wide receiver from 2009-2012, before coaching linebackers for the Tribe from 2013-2014.
After leaving William & Mary, Brady went on to serve as a graduate assistant at Penn State from 2015-2016. Brady then became an offensive assistant under Sean Payton with the New Orleans Saints for two seasons (‘17-’18). The national scene took notice of Joe Brady over his one season as the OC at LSU.
Brady coached Joe Burrow from an interesting transfer QB to the #1 overall NFL Draft pick. As the WR coach and passing game coordinator under OC Steve Ensminger, Brady brought in a modern, spread out, pro style approach to a boring LSU offense that had underachieved for decades. The LSU offense that once couldn’t produce with Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry became the greatest offense in College Football history, even if only for a year.
After LSU, Brady went to the NFL as the OC of the Panthers. Brady lasted through the 2020 season but was fired December 5th of 2021. The Panthers starting QB’s under Brady were Teddy Bridgewater (4-11), PJ Walker (0-2), Sam Darnold (4-7) and Cam Newton (0-5). The Panthers were a bottom tier offense scoring 21.9 and 17.9 points per game, respectively.
LSU was clearly the SP+’s top ranked offense after the 2019 season. After the 2018 season? The Tigers offense was ranked 30th in the then S&P+ (same thing, different trademark). In 2019, LSU scored 48.4 points per game (1st in FBS) while Burrow threw 60 TD’s and only six interceptions.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire averaged 6.6 yards per carry, while Ja’Marr Chase averaged 21.2 yards per catch. Edwards-Helaire scored 17 TD’s while Chase caught 20 TD balls. Not to mention Justin Jefferson caught 18 TD’s of his own, while Terrance Marshall Jr. caught 13 TD’s. These are eye-popping, Marsh set his NCAA ‘14 to Freshman difficulty, levels of stats.
Before Brady and Burrow teamed up, Burrow threw 16 TD’s with five INT’s, and LSU’s leading yards per catch receiver was Jefferson with 16.2 yards per catch. And Ja’Marr Chase, he only caught three TD’s in 2018.
Did Joe Burrow improve physically, psychologically, technically and tactically nearly six-fold in a year? Or was Brady the right addition to Ed Oregeron’s staff at exactly the right time?
Cons of Mr. Brady
The cons of Joe Brady are fairly evident:
1- Desire to be a college football coach.
Does Joe Brady really want to be a college football coach? Rumors in the past have stated Brady’s desire to remain in the NFL. That’s allegedly why he didn’t commit to the Miami OC job on the first round of “Brady to Miami” rumors. If Brady doesn’t want to be at the college level, will he stick out the position for more than one season?
Or will this be like the LSU experiment where less than a year later Mario Cristobal is going through the same issue of trying to find an OC, while also trying to secure a quarterback in each class (see: The Recruiting Rules). Yes, you do need to sign a top flight QB in each class and hope from 2-3 guys on campus that one emerges as the next Burrow, or Tyler Van Dyke.
2- Recruiting experience / chops.
Speaking of that recruiting experience, Brady has very little. His short career was spent as a LB coach, a GA, and then four years in the NFL. If his desire isn’t in recruiting and managing / facilitating 18-22 year old quarterbacks, then I’m not sure if being a college OC is the right fit for him, either.
But obviously the dude can dial up some plays, and got some chicken salad out of Sam Darnold in the disaster that is Carolina. So let’s look at an hour of bunch sets from LSU’s 2019 season with Burrow, Chase, Jefferson and the top-rated offense from their National Championship season.
Brady bunch compressed sets
The benefit of getting some All-22 sent over is multi-faceted. The angles are great for learning and really seeing what the teams are doing (although, you still have no idea what the calls were), no commercials or huddling which makes for easier viewing, I’m looking at just offense so my focus is dialed in, and in this case- just watching bunch compressed sets.
The first thing I want you to notice is how hard the skills block in the run game. Jet sweep, inside zone, it doesn’t matter. Thaddeus Moss (81), Edwards-Helaire (22) and Chase (1) are all active, willing blockers that seem to get pleasure in being part of the run game.
Above- A nice, patient run here from the running back. He has Chase blocking out in space for him which springs this run from a 10-yarder to an explosive play and touchdown. The bunch to the left causes an over-shift, Chase lining up condensed allows him to block the safety on an easier path.
Above- The QB doesn’t have to run on RPO’s. The QB doesn’t have to run on RPO’s. The QB doesn’t have to run on RPO’s. Burrow CAN run but he’s not a ‘runner’ per se. The LSU RPO’s in ‘19 fit him well. Just an easy glance RPO off zone. He reads the back side inside linebacker. If he makes room for the RPO it’s an easy throw.
Above- Jet sweep here from LSU to the bunch side. The RB sets one of the best downfield legal blocks I’ve ever seen. Again, you’re seeing the skills block hard, block long, and block aggressively for an explosive that would’ve been a short gain without the selfless effort.
Above- Adding gaps in the run game, while keeping your passing concepts in tact, is the key. Keep the defense off balance. That OODA Loop we’ve been discussing on twitter for a few weeks.
Above- When you put a bunch set to one side, and flood them across, the defense will over-adjust and then chase with the flood working left to right here. The back slips out of the back and all of the bunched up commotion causes the defender’s eyes to lose their read.
Above- More OODA Loop interruption. A late switch by the WR’s causes the DB’s to not work out their communication. It makes for an easy TD.
Above- This is four verts, with the WR smart enough to break the route outside rather than continue up and into the safety. Option concepts from the Air Raid scheme are always a favorite of mine. Why do things that blatantly can’t work vs. the defense?
Above- LSU comes out in the bunch, motions the back across. You can see Bama communicating the entire time and looking at each other instead of the offense. Then it looks like a Y-Cross variation from the Air Raid playbook. Forcing safeties to pass off guys that are crossing deep across the field is so, so hard.
Above- #1 carries the safety up the seam, #2 runs the slide (arrow, out) and #3 is the RB running the corner. So many rules, communications and visual- cognitive- motor skills are needed to make sense of this. If the protection holds it’s a TD and it does and is.
Much like with Frank Ponce, Ken Dorsey, Kendal Briles, et al. I have no idea who the Miami Hurricanes next offensive coordinator will be. I’m by no means an insider in Coral Gables, FL. I have my ACC connections via assistant coaches at different programs, but that’s all telephone, telegram, tell-a-coach.
In the end, if you know what’s good for The U, you want Joe Brady at Miami. Even if he’s only a Hurricane for a year, what the other coaches would learn from him, as well as Tyler Van Dyke and Jake Garcia, could be priceless for ‘23 and beyond.