The Grinders

Posted: June 26th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on The Grinders

I love football coaches. Always have.

My dad coached little league football when I was an infant so it could be that seeing that left an imprint on me. Tom Landry was the first NFL head coach that I loved. Starting in 1985, Buddy Ryan became the first assistant coach that I loved.

Playing high school football helped me to really appreciate assistant coaches. Coach Cain, Coach Braswell, Coach Rice and Coach Ledford were the men teaching us the details of how to get in a good stance, come off the ball, block, tackle and everything else you can imagine.

I once had a young teammate ask me a question as Coach Cain was explaining a particular blocking drill. I tried to answer my teammate quietly. Oops.

“Tommy Lawlor!!! Would you like to come up here and run the drill?”

I’m leaving out the expletives to spare the women and kids. Coach Cain did have a way with words. I felt bad about offending him and sought him out after practice. I wanted to explain what happened and to apologize for any disrespect. He told me it wasn’t a big deal and that he was trying to get everyone’s attention as much as anything else. That was a good lesson for me. Yelling had a purpose beyond just scaring the crap out of me.

When I went to Appalachian State I got to interview assistant coaches for the student radio station. They proved to be an invaluable resource for learning the subtleties of the game. I loved talking to the coaches off the air, where there would really open up and let you know what was on their mind.

For this week’s column, I wrote about the Eagles assistant coaches. They did a brilliant job in 2017.

I don’t think we give Doug Pederson enough credit for what a great coaching staff he put together. I also give him a lot of credit for replacing Greg Lewis with Mike Groh. It would have been easy to give Lewis, a young coach, another year to learn on the job. Pederson saw that a change had to be made and didn’t hesitate. There is no way the Eagles win the Super Bowl without Groh. That really was a great move.

The challenge for Pederson now is to keep as many of these guys as he can. Andy Reid had a great staff when he started with the Eagles, but he struggled to replace guys as they got better jobs elsewhere. That hurt the team after Reid’s first four or five years.

We love to talk about Howie Roseman keeping so many key players around for this year, but it is also critical that so many assistants are returning. The amazing team chemistry last year wasn’t just due to Pederson and the players. The assistant coaches were also a big part of that. They are great teachers, but also know how to motivate and to lead.

I think you can make a compelling argument that the Eagles have the best set of assistant coaches in the NFL.


In case you haven’t seen this yet…

Possibly Jimmy Bama’s finest work. He mixes legit football analysis with a lot of fun.

Must-read material.


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