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ESPN's Michael Smith Talks Jason Campbell

Posted by Matt Terl on June 8, 2009 – 4:52 pm

ESPN’s Michael Smith is one of the rare media guys who looks in person exactly like I expected him to from TV. Unlike, say, Kevin Blackistone, who is much shorter than I thought, or Tony Kornheiser, who is much taller, Smith joins Tony Siragusa on my prestigious list of media personalities who are exactly the height and weight I thought they be.

All of which is is a long, roundabout way of saying that Smith was watching OTAs from the sidelines today, and he apparently called in to … I think it’s ESPNNews, but I sometimes have trouble distinguishing the various ESPN isotopes from one another. Anyhow, he called in to whatever show this video is from to discuss how Jason Campbell is dealing with the offseason drama.

The short answer? Like a professional. For the longer answer, here’s the video.


Hat tip to Matt Mosley’s NFC Beast blog for the link. Read more »

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On the Field for Practice And A Two-Minute Drill

Posted by Matt Terl on June 8, 2009 – 3:02 pm

A few more absentees today than there were last week. Rookie Cody Glenn had a flight cancelled out from under him, Albert Haynesworth was appearing in court, Anthony Montgomery was excused, James Thrash is still nursing an injury, and LaRon Landry is still focusing on the “voluntary” part of “voluntary workouts”.

Big Mike Williams left practice early after jamming his knee into the ground, but no one seemed overly concerned about the injury, and I saw him walking around pretty nimbly afterward.

This is the first day that the humidity really seemed oppressive, but I know that it’s nothing compared to what we’re going to deal with in August. Still, as nasty as it is to stand in, I can’t imagine how much worse it was to practice in.

There wasn’t much doubt what the high point of today’s practice was, though: for the first time that I’ve seen this offseason, Coach Zorn wheeled out the big clock and the first team offense lined up against the first-team defense in a two-minute drill.

The result? As Rocky McIntosh put it on his Twitter: “you guess it the D shut down the offense.”

Specifically, DeAngelo Hall ended the drill with an interception, and the defensive line seemed to be running past the offensive line more or less at will. (Which, to be fair, is roughly what you’d expect from last year’s #4 defense after the offseason additions.) And, because the two-minute defense is conducted largely from the nickel formation, that defensive line included rookie Brian Orakpo.
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Monday, June 8: Jerry Gray Talks Coaching Cornerbacks and The Toughest Job Interview On Earth

Posted by Matt Terl on June 8, 2009 – 10:05 am

I thought you might want a nice long interview to help transition you from the weekend mindset to the reading-the-internet-at-work mindset. This is the latest in a series of interviews with the coaching staff; if you haven’t seen them, check out the previous entries here.

Secondary coach Jerry Gray is one of those people who has excelled at each stage of his career, and he’s got the accolades to prove it. As a player, he performed at a higher level than most — a four-time All-Pro, a Pro Bowl MVP, and the 1989 Defensive Back of the Year — and, as a coach, he’s been impressive enough that he’s been named a number of times as a candidate in head coaching searches.

It’s that second thing that fascinated me most, I think. Every year after the season, a bunch of coaching positions open, and we all watch as the usual names are trotted out and “longshot” assistants fly around to interview. It’s the kind of thing that turns up as one line in a longer article — “Assistant Coach X is scheduled to interview for the Dolphins job opening,” or whatever — but it’s obviously a lot more than that for Assistant Coach X.

Luckily for me, Coach Gray was generous with his time, so we managed to discuss what that process is like from the inside (intense, as you’d expect), as well as how his ability as a player has influenced his coaching (less than I’d expected), and what he thinks of his current crop of cornerbacks.

But I started by asking him about the overall hierarchy of the defensive coaching staff.

Let’s start with some of the behind-the-scenes basics. How does the defensive game-planning go? Coach Blache puts in the system, but how much input — if any — do you have in that sort of thing? How does that break down?

Gray: “Basically, the schematics part of the game can be credited to Coach Blache because he’s the Coordinator. He’s a guy that says, ‘This is what I’m comfortable with, this is what I’ve been doing, and this is what I’ve done.’ It’s our job as position coaches to take that and put our guys into technique positions to win within the defensive call.

“To me, that’s the right way to do it because I’ve been at other places and I’ve heard other things to where their coordinator tries to appease people. If you don’t call what you like and what you know, you’re not really going to be good at it.

“I like the way Coach Blache does things. He’ll say, “Hey, I’m the coordinator. Here are the things I like to do. Let’s all talk about it and get on the same page, and let’s go out there and have you [the coaches] teach the technique, and I’ll call the defense.'”

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