I'm sitting in the airport right now. I have am on a 2 hour layover late at night to come back to Tennessee. I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I want to go home.
So let's get to some ideas I thought of for possible LB coaches while I was sitting here listening to music waiting for my flight.
(Yes, I realize the base statement at the beginning of this post had no major relevancy, I felt like getting it out of me.)
As we all know, Bill Shuey's contract will not be renewed going into the 2011 season.
If you haven't noticed by now, I was never really a fan of him in the first place (I tried to be as inconspicuous about it as I could). I am a firm believer that person who knows the position should be coaching the position. Bill Shuey's track record including him being a former offensive quality control assistant. That is far from what I would like to hear about a key position coach on defense being earlier in his career. It be different if he at least had some background as some kind of defensive coach, but no. When the shuffling of the defensive coaches began, he was just handed a job because Andy believed he deserved it.
**NOTE: I love Andy and what he tries to do. But the one thing that has always gotten on my nerves about him is his little "Garden on Reid" plan he loves to do where instead of pursuing someone, he'll prefer to home grow his guys. I don't mind it sometimes, but the fact that 75% of our coaching staff was like that (and ironically they are gone now) didn't exactly rub me the right way. Granted, I am glad that all of them are gone
but it is still something that shouldn't have happened in the first place because many positions are still needing to be filled. But that's in the past now. Andy began a redeeming move by hiring one of the best DL coaches in the NFL in Jim Washburn and if his interest in Darren Perry is legit and we are able to get him, then I'll be happy.
One place that has been constantly neglected by Andy throughout the years is of course......Linebackers. If it hasn't become apparent already, I am very big on when it comes to linebackers. I played LB in high school and in college for awhile before I transferred around (another story, another day). I completely understand Reid's idea that the game is "won in the trenches." But the fact remains, their are 11 players on defense, and in a 4-3, 3 of those players are LBs. So when they take up that much of a spot on the defense, you may want to emphasize them a little more.
Over the years we've seen many LBs come and go (especially OLBs). For a long portion of time, I always believed it was a major lack of talent that was the reason, but after seeing a few assortments of LBs come and go through here when they did at least minor damages on prior teams (Witherspoon, Sims (even though it was his lack of brains which was his problem), Spikes, etc), I began to start questioning Shuey. Then I realized, maybe it wasn't just a lack of talent, maybe it was just as much inadequate teaching. I mean if a pilot tried to teach me how to repair a broken leg, I think I'd be screwed.
To make a long story short, ever since the departure of Ron Rivera, we have never had a true coach who understood LBs. The staff is now cleared so I think it would be somewhat appropriate to mention some possible ideas for LB coaches for our soon to be coming DC.
Seahawks Defensive Assistant
Mike has been regarded as more a good teacher like Dennis Allen. He has been moved around the defense of the Seahawks from LB assistant, to DL assistant, to part of Pete Carroll's staff as of late. Plus, he played LB in college so he has knowledge of what he is doing. He worked with the likes of Lofa Tatupu, David Hawthorne, Leroy Hill, and Aaron Curry. That's about as good a group as their is in the NFL. Nothing else really I can say about him either than, I would be willing to give him a shot with a young group and see what he could do. I mean, he couldn't possibly be worse than Shuey.
UNC Linebacker Coach
OK. Bring it on "college coaches don't work in the NFL" people. Well, the difference is, he wouldn't be handling the major task of taking on an entire defense; just the LBs which I would trust him with. Art Kaufman has been one of the better LB coaches in the NCAA over the past few years. He is accredited with grooming Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant into All-ACC players. When Sturdivant went down last year, Kevin Reddick stepped right in and had no problem with the defense becoming a 2009 Freshman All-ACC player. This year, despite the problem with the UNC team, the linebackers remained a stable group and when Sturdivant once again had to rest with a hamstring injury, Reddick took another step forward looking possibly better than Sturdivant. Regardless, both Sturdivant and Carter are regarded as top 5 at their respective positions.
Kaufman was a two-time All-America linebacker during his playing days at Arkansas-Monticello and followed his four-year career with the Boll Weevils by taking a graduate assistant position at Delta State University. He earned his first full-time coaching job in 1983 when he became the outside linebackers coach at Northwestern State University (La.). In 1987, he was named defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Northwestern State.
As you can see, he has extensive work with LBs and is one of my favorite possibilities for becoming our LB coach. I realize the chances of it happening are.......well none. But, in case it were to cross the mind AR, I would not be against it.
USC Linebacker Coach
This is not another bring a coach from the NCAA to college.......well yeah it is. But this one is different. Joe was at one time a defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. Matter of fact, it wasn't long ago (07-08). He wasn't the greatest defensive coordinator, but prior to those year he worked extensively as a LB coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2001-2006 (and again for the 2009 year). In 2002, when the Bucs won the Superbowl, both Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles (Who? yeah) both enjoyed some of their best seasons with him as their position coach and continued to do well as long as he was their through 2006. In 2009, when he came back, Barrett Ruud went on to have arguably his best season as a finishing 2nd in the NFL in tackles behind Willis, while defending 7 passes (most among MLBs that season). Barry elected to follow Monte Kiffin to USC to coach with his son. I would be ecstatic if we were able to get him as a position coach. He is NFL experienced and has a great track record with players. This would be amazing to get him.
**Quick Note: He also coached our very own Ernie Sims (well, won't be our much longer) in 2007 and 2008. Check Sims and Paris Lenon's stats during the 2007 and 2008 years and see how good they are and look at the players' stats afterwards and tell me he didn't have an effect on them.
No. This is not a joke. Yes. I am serious about this. While he hasn't formally filed retirement papers with the league yet, it's gonna happen one way or another. Nobody wants a 42 year old, injury prone, has been linebacker trying to tackle Adrian Peterson in the open field. With that being said, I sure as hell wouldn't mind him being a coach to the young guys for our LB group. His track record as a player is ridiculous. 9 time All-Pro (7 times 1st team), 12 time Pro Bowler, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, 1992 NEA and UPI Defensive Player of the Year, and Future HOFer. I really think the has almost a negative chance of happening since Andy is not the type of person to take such a reach, but think wouldn't this be awesome? Mike Singletary was able to find success as a former player turned position coach, Seau could be the next.
Well those are my quick hits. If you have any other suggestions please let me know. I had a few other, but my hands are tired and I wanna sleep. So provide feedback, and please be positive. Plus, if you want to mention LBs in the draft in the comments section I'm all for it because you already know I've been looking at some.
P.S. I am one of the few people on this site who seems to like Chaney and am willing to give him a chance based how he played at the end of the year. Yes he could have been better, but considering where he was drafted, the circumstances he came under, and the things he had working against him (McDermott, Shuey, and Aaron Rodgers) I think he did a very good job and showed he has a lot to grow on and look forward to in the future should he show improvement this offseason.