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Chris Foerster's Approach To Coaching

Posted by Matt Terl on June 3, 2010 – 12:51 pm

New offensive line coach Chris Foerster is a very different kind of coach from his predecessor, Joe Bugel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It seems unfair to Foerster to mention them both in the lede, in fact, but it’s a comparison he’s been facing literally since he arrived at Redskins Park. Bugel is a legend in D.C., and the Redskins have perhaps the strongest tradition of rooting for their offensive line of any team in the NFL.

Following a legend is a difficult task, to say the least, so maybe it’s best that Foerster takes such a different approach. Bugel was a yeller, a curser, an old-school guy who called violence his turn-on and wanted things done his way all the time, every time. Foerster characterizes his own coaching style in just SLIGHTLY different terms.

“I’m a teacher first,” he says. “I’m gonna teach the guys how to play the position. I’m gonna give them what they need. I’m very much about meeting each guy where he is individually. I’m gonna try as best I can to get to know each guy, try as best I can to find out what makes him tick, where their strengths and weaknesses are, and I believe in developing a foundation and relationship with the player and trying to reach them where they are.”

He continues, “More than anything, I want to develop a trust with my players. A trust that they can believe what I tell ’em, and that what I have to say will give them a chance to succeed. And hopefully in that process, I can get them to maximize their abilities, and in that we can have a good offensive line, a good offense, and win some games.”

Now, you never know if a guy’s actual coaching style (or teaching style or managing style, for that matter) actually comes across the way he thinks it does. So I asked a few of Foerster’s players about his style, especially where it contrasted with Bugel’s. The answers were … consistent, to say the least, often down to word choice.

Here, look:

Derrick Dockery, offensive guard

“I just think their approaches, as far as the way they get their points across, Foerster’s more of a laid-back guy until you push him to his limit. Buges is just a fiery guy. Yells a lot, screams, old-school. Both of ’em are still very passionate about what they do; it’s the way they communicate that’s very different.

“Buges was really one of those guys, if he believed in something it was just like, Hey, this is how it is. I think Chris is more, if he sees that something works for an individual, he’s okay to do what he can do. But also at the same time he sees, Okay, this guy has this flaw, let’s really try to work on it and get it corrected. Buges was the same way, but the way they communicated those thoughts was totally different.”

William Robinson, offensive tackle

“Coach Foerster’s a good coach. He knows his stuff, he’s good with the players. It’s a little different mentality; you know, Buges is a hard-nosed old-school kind of a guy. [Foerster] is more of a new school, like, This is how we want to do it. He’s open to ideas. So it’s a pretty nice interchange: he respects us, we respect him, we just have to go about doing our plays and our assignments.

“He’s not real touchy-feely, but he’s not gonna chew you out for not tying your shoe or something. Coach Buges, he’s a hard-nosed guy. I mean, I love Coach Buges. He’s a great coach, and Coach Foerster’s also a good coach. He just has a different approach to it.”

Stephon Heyer, offensive tackle

“It’s night and day. Their coaching styles are just totally different. Buges was hard-nosed, in-your-face, expecting perfection every down, every snap. Coach Foerster is gonna give you his impression of how things need to work, he’ll relax and make sure you really understand what’s going on before he gets on you. Buges expects perfection.

“The tension isn’t there. Buges expected so much — which isn’t crazy; you’re a professional, and you’re supposed to do your job at a hundred percent all the time — but we’re men, too. We make mistakes, and Coach Foerster understands that. He allows you to kinda be your own football player. He’s gonna show you what technique he’d like to see, but if you feel like this one works a little better for you he let’s you use it — IF it works for you.”

Casey Rabach, center

“Buges was definitely set in his ways. He had a way of doing things that he knew was successful over many years, and he wanted everyone to follow that way. Coach Foerster is more [going to] play to the strengths of each player. Instead of trying to change everybody dramatically and everything, he’s got a way he wants things done, but he knows there’s gonna be little differences here and there.”

Rabach, in fact, understood clearly that some fans might be concerned about the transition from a guy who had become a legend to a relatively new face in town, and he had a simple message for those fans: “He’s a real good coach, he really is. We’re in good hands.”

And Robinson wanted to make sure one other thing was very clear: just because Foerster doesn’t chew you out for small infractions doesn’t mean that everything is all gosh golly gee whiz with the offensive line now. “I mean, he cusses,” Robinson said. “Every coach cusses. Who doesn’t do that? I don’t think ANYone cusses as much as Buges, though. I don’t think it’s possible.”

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