How many guys do you know named Gus?
Fifty years ago, one of America’s original seven Mercury Astronauts was named Gus Grissom.
The Edwards Air Force Base legend was officially named Virgil Ivan Grissom, a name worthy of the Knights of the Round Table.
He felt more at home being known as Gus.
Rhymes with Bus.
And, No Fuss.
Guys named Gus are very comfortable in their own skin.
Take the Los Angeles Chargers’ defensive coordinator, for instance.
Paul Casey Bradley is another regal-sounding name.
But that sounds too much like some self-affected actor’s name.
So say hello to another Gus.
The supposedly unstoppable Baltimore Ravens spent an entire AFC Wildcard Playoff Sunday doing just that.
Gus Bradley only played seven defensive backs at once 50 times in more than 1,100 snaps all season.
Bradley played seven DBs on 57-of-58 snaps Sunday, completely throttling a Ravens rushing attack that had rung up more than 200 yards for seven straight weeks.
“Our DBs are hitters, man,” said Chargers rookie safety Derwin James. “We can cover. But we can force and support, too.”
That’s what they did, limiting the Ravens to fewer than 60 rushing yards through three quarters.
“I didn’t feel like myself today,” Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson said after the Chargers’ 23-17 upset victory over the team that manhandled them two weeks earlier in Carson.
When you fumble three times, throw an interception and get sacked seven times, it’s understandable.
His players worship Coach Gus.
In the last month he’s come up with schemes that stopped the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and now the Baltimore Ravens.
All, on the road.
The Chargers had two wins in 11 trips to Pittsburgh since 1995.
They’d lost nine straight vs. the Chiefs, and hadn’t won in Arrowhead since 2012.
They hadn’t won in Denver since 2013.
Now they head to Foxborough, where the Chargers haven’t won since 2005.
That includes playoff losses in 2007 and 2008, the latter the AFC Championship Game.
Tom Brady is 7-0 in his career vs. Chargers quarterback counterpart Philip Rivers.
But he’s just 1-1 vs. The Gus.
Bradley’s Legion of Boom coming out party was a 24-23 upset of the Patriots in Seattle in 2012.
After Sunday’s stunning performance, Bill Belichick may not be the only coach whose machinations could decide the outcome on Sunday.
Bradley’s softspoken demeanor and easy smile belie the sledgehammer his defense brings every Sunday.
Not having Pro Bowl pass rushing terror Joey Bosa for the first half of the season was no bargain.
Bradley adjusted by playing No. 1 draft pick Derwin James as a sort of hybrid weak side linebacker close to the line of scrimmage, where he could augment Melvin Ingram’s pass rush and stuff the running game.
Now Bosa is back, raising hell, and James is comfortable playing three different positions on the defense.
Pro Bowl safety Desmond King and defensive backs Adrian Phillips, Jaleel Addai and Michael Davis are all at home in the maelstrom of the physical battle.
Bradley has given Belichick and Brady something to think about with his seven DB linebackers.
With tight end Rob Gronkowski hobbled, Bradley could really make Sunday interesting by taking away Brady’s security blanket of Super Bowl LI shoulda-been MVP James White.
Whether putting the Ravens on the endangered species or going 14-48 at head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2013-16, Bradley is always the same authentic person.
It takes a special personality to have been an NFL head coach and not make second-year Chargers coach Anthony Lynn feel uncomfortable.
Gus makes everyone around him feel better, and perform better.
Everyone except opposing offenses.