Well, it's kind of interesting to be here at this stadium. As the Combine has moved along, it's come a long way. I remember being at Arizona State. It was getting dark, standing out there, watching The Fridge do his vertical jump. That was quite a sight to see.
Of course, coming to The Dome, and now coming in here, it's amazing how the Combine has grown at every turn, the media, the agents, the players, and the preparation for it. And all these guys who spend months preparing for it. So it's become quite an event.
But it's fun to be a part of it. It's good to see the college players. Unfortunately, I've seen a little bit more of them then i have in previous years. But, that being said,it's always an enjoyable part of the process to start to get to know them. The interviews, I always think that's one of the most interesting parts of the Combine. I've never thought, and I
don't think, you can ever analyze a player in a 10 minute interview. That's really stretching it. I just find it interesting to see where these kids have come from, what their background is, who's important to them in their life, what coaches, or what teammates or what situations they've been through that have kind of shaped the way they are, the way they approach the game, or the way they prepare, things like that, so I find that very interesting. We've certainly had a lot of interesting ones this week, so, that's kind of the fun part of coming here, and getting to know the players, especially, when you ... have one sitting, instead of travelling around the country to make those trips. You spend all day talking to one or two players. Here, you get that done in a half hour. So, that's a good part ofit for us.
Certainly, seeing some of the people here, that were very recently with us, like Tom Dimitroff, who did a tremendous job this year in Atlanta. He certainly should be the executive of the year. The turnaround that team had is magnificent, along with the job Bill (Parcells) and Tony (Sporano) did in Miami. You know, seeing Thomas, and catching up with him. Scott (Pioli) is a guy I can't say enough about. What he's meant to our organization and to myself personally, what a tremendous job he's done in every phase. His responsibilities will continue to from personnel, to contracts to team management and planning, and so forth ... it's been awesome.
George (Kokinis) being in Cleveland now. I remember I was this close to firing him. One of the jobs when he was first there, was driving guys to the airport, and he got into an accident. And, I wasn't too happy about that. But George has done a tremendous job and I'm very happy for him. Of course, Schwartzie. Schwartzie is another guy that was in that
same group at Cleveland. I'm kind of tired of hearing the turkey sandwhich story. I don't really remember it that way.
Schwartzie was probably as smart as any person . . . a brilliant guy. A Georgetown guy. You could give him ten different things to do, and come to him at any point in time, and say 'where are we on this?' and he'd have it for you in a second.
Then you'd throw 2 or 3 other things at him, 'Hey Jimmy, can you take care of this, can you take care of that?' and half the time, he'd say, 'Coach, I've already started on that. And here's where I am. Is it Okay what I'm doing?' So he was part-mind reader. Tremendous work ethic, and really, just extremely intelligent. I'm sure he'll do a great job in Detroit, as he did atTennessee.
When I first took the job at New England, Jeff (Fisher) was, one of the first calls I made there, to inquire about Schwartzie, I wanted to bring him to New England, and he was a quality control coach. So Jeff said, what do you have in mind?
Are you going to make him a quality control guy? I'm not going to let him go for a lateral move. And I said, Jeff, I wouldn't expect you to. I'm going to bring him here to coach linebackers. Jeff said, 'well, I think I'm going to make him the coordinator.' So we lost out on bringing him here to New England. But, again, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy, and what he's accomplished, and I'm sure he'll do a tremendous job in Detroit. (NOTE: Actually Schwartz was already linebackers coach, and got promoted to DC when Greg Williams became head coach in Buffalo).
You know, some changes since the end of the season at New England. We've had those in the past. It's not something we haven't dealt with before. Scott, again, no way I could express into words how much he's meant to us.
It's been great working with Nick (Caserio) and to bring Floyd (Reese) into the organization. Floyd and I go back quite a ways - too far - but it's been great. It's only been a few weeks with Floyd. But I've had a long relationship with Nick, both on the coaching end of it, the scouting end of it. He's done a lot of different things for us and done them all very well.
It's been very invigorating working with him and Floyd over the past few weeks pulling things together on all fronts. We're preparing for the draft and free agency, and some of our current player and personnel situations, kind of re-organizing and revamping some things in the personnel department. That's been a good experience, and as much as we'll miss Scott, we're moving on in that direction.
Brad Sealy was one of the coaches I held over when I got to New England. He did a tremendous job for us. Sorry to see him move on, at the same time, it's great to be re-united with Scott O'Brien. There's no coach that I respect more than Scott
O'Brien. He did a tremendous job for me at Cleveland. I think the world of him and what he does. He's very thorough. I've learned an awful lot from my five years with Scott in Cleveland as far as evaluating players. I coached special teams for 8 years. He certainly does it a lot better than I did. I've learned an awful lot from him, through our association in Cleveland and our continuing friendship. So, it's great to have him back.
Dom Capers was a class guy, one of the classiest people in our business. I'm happy for him. His new position at Green Bay, I'm sure he'll do a great job there. He has a great defensive mind, he's had a tremendous career. Josh Boyer will move into that spot in the secondary. Josh is one of the guys that's started at the bottom and worked his way up. He's worked hard, and done a great job for us. I'm sure he'll do well in that spot. Same thing at tight end with Pete (Mangurian) getting an opportunity to re-unite with Raheem (Morris). They were at Cornell, of course. He's going to coach the offensive line, which
I know is a passion of his. Shane (Waldron) is a guy who came to us at the bottom. Went and spent a few years with Charlie (Weis), came back last year. So he'll be working with the tight ends this year. I think that's a responsibility he deserves. He'll do a good job at. I couldn't say enough about Josh (McDaniels). That's certainly a loss personally. I consider Josh a great friend, certainly a great coach. Charlie came in 2000 when I came in, and did a tremendous job with our offense. We won championships, and we took it to a very productive level, and then Josh took that, and I think has continued to have it grow and expand as we've been able to maintain continuity within our system both with coaches and with players. I'm sure Josh will do a great job in Denver on all fronts. He's worked in every of our organization, personnel, defense, offense. He's very knowledgeable in every area of the game. That's a great addition for the Broncos, certainly a loss for us. It's an opportunity for other coaches on our staff to move up. We'll kind of change a little bit of our offensive staff around. That's still not quite complete yet. I won't comment on that any further other than, to talk about the situation with Shane replacing Pete at tight ends. Those are some of the changes we've had on our end.
As we head into free agency, i'm sure there will be more changes, there always are. We'll be active with trying to improve our team, whatever way we can. I wouldn't at this time be able to give you any updates on personel situations, contracts, or any injury updates, things like that. Right now, we're just trying to evaluate the players at the Combine, and we'll get back and prepare for the coming free agency period at the end of the week.
It's been a busy off season. I feel like it's been a productive one. We have a lot of work to do, like all the other 31 teams in the league. Again, it's been kind of fun to see some of the people here that meant so much to our team, and my career over the years.
At the same time, i think it's a little, I don't know what the right word is, it just doesn't seem right not to have people like Mike Shanahan, and Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, Steve Mariucci, guys I've coached against, and in some cases, not very well, not be head coaches in the National Football League.
Mike Shanahan is certainly a Hall of Fame coach. I know I've got to be on the list of people he'll thank because all the games that have been scheduled against us, he's done pretty well. Even when I was an assistant with the Jets, even with the Patriots. I know I haven't beaten him too many times. I'm not disappoitned to not have him on the schedule, believe me. But, it's just hard to believe that coaches like Mike Shanahan and John Gruden aren't coaching in the National Football League. But, that's not my decisison. That being said, we've got plenty to do ourselves. I'm not trying to comment on anyone else's situation. But, it's just odd for them to be here, but not in a coaching capacity. But that's the National Football League.
Q:Thoughts on Rex Ryan
A:Rex has had a tremendous career. He's done a great job at Baltimore. I coached with his brother Rob.They're very much alike. I feel like I know Rex, even though I don't really know Rex. I have tremendous amount of respect for what he's done with the Ravens, players he's developed, schemes that he's run. He comes from a great football family, and I'm sure it will be very competitive against the Jets, as it always is.
Q:Thoughts on the outside linebackers in the draft?
A:The 3-4/ defensive end group, I think it's an interesting group. I think there's some really talented players there, guys from different backgrounds. Guys who've been in coverage, guys who haven't been in coverage, with pass rush ability. The Orakpos, the English's, guys like that, so that will be part of the process as we go forward and try to figure outhow they wou ld fit into, in our case, our system, how we would utilize them, what their skills are, and how that translates. I think there's an awful lot of teams playing the 3-4 defense now, certainly compared to 2000 when I came to new England. It was
pretty much us and Pittsburgh. ANd now you have teams in our division, many teams in the AFC, a couple of teams in the NFC, you've probably got 8-9-10 teams basing out of a 3-4 defense. That's made those positions, the outside linebacker position, the 3-4 nose tackle position very competitive and very unique from the 4-3 complimentary spots. Scheme has an awful lot to do with how those players are evaluated from club to club.
Q:Why are so many teams going to 3-4?
A:I don't know. (It could be) Assistant coaches going to take their systems somewhere else. Romeo going to Cleveland, and taking the 3-4 to Cleveland. Rex going from Baltimore, taking that system to the Jets. I'm sure he's not going to change his system. He's been too successful with it. Mike Nolan, when he went to San Francisco, now Denver. It's a little bit like the West Coast offense when Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden and Andy Reid and Brian Billick left the (Bill) Walsh system, and were head coaches, and this league was a heavy west coast offense, which it still is in the NFC NOrth. So, it's trendy, but that's the NFL. It's cyclical. And now the 3-4 defense seems to be as popular as it was in the 80s when they had some Pro Bowl positions that followed the 3-4 defense to recognize some of those players.
Q: How happy is Floyd Reese to be back in the game?
A:Floyd's pretty happy with everything. He's an upbeat, easy-going guy. I think he has a great football background. I think Floyd, like several people that I've worked with in New England, he's been a special teams coach, he's been a strength coach, a defensive line/ linebacker, defensive coordinator, assistant general manager, general manager for the Titans for 13 years, so he's pretty much been in every aspect of professional football that you could be in. Coaching, the administrative side of it, the hiring and firing, the contracts, the negotiating with agents, all of it. He has a wealth of experience. As much as anybody, Floyd kind of mentored me when I got to Detroit. OUr staff was an older staff. Floyd and I were the two youngest coaches. We ended up living a couple blocks away from each other. We kind of hung out together. We rode together to the games, and we worked together in the kicking game. I was coaching the tight ends, he was working with linebackers. We did drills against each other. We communicated a lot. We have a friendship as well as a coaching relationship, and I've always admired and respected Floyd for what he's been able to do. Even as a player, you look at, it's hard to believe, this
All-American tackle, at 5-11, or whatever he was, but that's the way he played. He's a great achiever, and a great worker. That's something that rubbed off on me, his work ethic and his determination and his versatility as a coach. I think that's something I appreciated very early in my career, and I'm glad I did. I'm glad I have Floyd. I'm glad to be able to work with Floyd again.
Q: What do you think about the group of defensive backs?
A: I think there are some interesting guys here. There are some corners, there are some safeties, and there are some guys that fall in between. We'll have to determine how they'll fall in a particular system. I think the safety position is becoming more and more of a corner position in the National Football League. There were times when some of the safeties, particularly the strong safeties, fit more like linebackers, than they did as defensive backs. I think that's changed gradually but not to the point where your defensive backs, they either have to cover wide receivers or they have to cover tight ends who are very good in the passing game ... I think the demands of that position have changed. I think that's changed the evaluation a little bit. I think some of those hy-brid guys have played corner and safety, like (Malcolm) Jenkins for example, is a guy that's played both. What his best fit is for a team, where he's most valuable, is certainly an
interesting discussion for all teams.
A:I'm glad you followed up with that. I feel the same way about that, about the head coaches. Mike Martz, there's another Super Bowl winner, Jim Haslett, I have tremendous respect for Jim hazlett and what he's done, again I can't really speak for what other teams are doing, or not doing. I have my hands full trying to coach the team that I'm on. But, as a coach, it's a little bit of an empty feeling to see people like that not in the game. Much as i don't want to compete against them, they deserve to be at this level. They're great coaches. Mike Martz has had a tremendous offensive career. So has Jim on the defensive side of the ball as well as being a head coach. Maybe you have to ask the people who are doing the hiring.
Q:Do you feel that trend is unfair, the trend of going young with coaches?
A: I don't know. I'm just trying to coach the Patriots. I'm not trying to solve the world's problems.
A: I was very fortunate at Cleveland to work with some of the great people that were there. Nick Saban, Scott O'Brien, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Hill, you can go right down the line, Scott (Pioli), Mike Lombardi, George (Kokinis,), Phil Savage, Ozzie (Newsome), it was a tremendous group of people. Terry McDonough, Tom Dimitroff, Tom's dad (Tom Sr.) (inaudible) ... it was a great opportunity for me. I learned from all of those people. I had the opportunity to with with some outstanding people at many different levels. Ernie Acorsi was another great person to learn from there. All the different relationships, coaching, scouting, the integrating of all those different things into an organization, I think that had a lot to do with the success we from '91, to the 11-5 season in 94. It was the work of the staff, not just the players, but the coaches, and the development of the younger players. The offensive linemen that were developed by Pat Hill and Kirk Ferentz, the people like Mike Lombardi selected, and were signed as free agents, the Wally Williams, Herman Harveys, the Tony Jones, the Orlando Browns, the Bob Dahls ... there are a lot of things we learn from, a lot of things to be proud of about the accomplishments we had between the 1991-to-94 period. That had to do with the staff and the people that were there.