NFLLabor.com posted an article yesterday pretty much summarizing the 2010 Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, breaking down the benefits of the program — 25 NFL teams have a coach on staff who graduated from the program, including Keenan McCardell here in Washington, including four head coaches — and explaining a bit of what the program tries to do.
The program, which was named after the man who conceived the idea – late Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh – exposes talented minority college coaches to the methods and philosophies of summer NFL training camps. Walsh introduced the concept in 1987 when he brought a group of minority coaches into his San Francisco 49ers’ training camp. The program has mentored more than 1,500 minority coaches through the years.
The piece has a strong Redskins flavor, from the picture of Chris Samuels to the quote from Chris Samuels (“I have always known that I wanted to coach football once I retired. This is always what I wanted to do, so now I’m just going to the second phase of my life”) to the fact that the Redskins had the most Fellowship participants in the entire league, the only team to have five such folks on staff.
- Steve Atwater
- Terrell Davis
- Michael Pittman
- Clarence Vaughn
- Chris Samuels
Which also reminded me that I had done a quick Q&A with Pittman waaaayyyyy back on day two of training camp, but had somehow never gotten around to using it. So here it is; his comments on running backs catching passes out of the backfield seem especially prescient after watching the first three preseason games.
So what is your goal as part of the Bill Walsh Coaching Fellowship?
“I definitely wanna get into coaching. I wouldn’t be out here otherwise. I know [running backs coach] Bobby Turner, I know Coach [Mike] Shanahan after playing for them in 2008. They invited me to come out here and be a part of the team, and I expect to learn a lot. I mean, they’re some great coaches and learning under them could be very big for me.”
You had an excellent career as a player. Does that make it easier for you transition into coaching? How much does that really help you out?
“You gotta become a good coach, of course, but I’ve got a lot of knowledge of the game and this offense that they’re running now, it’s the same offense I’ve been in my whole career. So the knowledge of the game that I have — it’s different coaching and playing, and I’m learning how they do it coaching-wise — but the concept of the offense and being out here, I’m on top of all that.”
The top three running backs on the depth chart are veterans, and are basically your peers. Is it weird to be coaching them now?
“It’s weird, but they’re some great guys. My strength was coming out of the backfield and doing things in the passing game, so I’m really here to help ’em out in that part. Bobby Turner, of course, is a great running backs coach and I learned a lot from him, but he respects me and respects what I did, so I’m out here to help and just learn.”
In the bad weather on the first day of training camp, pass-catching out of the backfield looked like an issue, and that trend even continued today. How do you help correct that?
“You tell the guy just to take their time when they’re running their routes. Sometimes when a running back comes out of the backfield, they tend to think they’ve gotta rush their routes. The thing is, you’ve gotta really take your time and run ’em. Because if you rush, the quarterback’s not ready to throw the ball.”
Just slowing things down can solve the problem?
“You’ve also gotta have confidence in your hands. See, I played baseball — that was a big part of me — so I already had confidence in my hands, and that was one of the big aspects of my game. So when you come out and tell these guys, ‘Just have confidence, slow down your routes and just go out there and do your part, that’s what you’ve gotta do.'”
Tags: michael pittman, training camp 2010
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