It was a topic that was mentioned more than once when the Cardinals had hired Ray Horton – who played in the NFL for a decade – as their defensive coordinator. The idea that players might have a deeper respect for someone who had been them.
Horton summed it up pretty well, I think, with this line: “It gives you some credibility that you have sat in the same chairs they’re in,” he said. “It helps until they say, ‘Why’d you call that?!?’ ”
And ultimately, that seems to be the general feeling.
“I have seen some very good coaches that didn’t play,” said head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who of course played near a decade himself in the NFL. “So I don’t know if it has an impact if you can’t coach. Players are smart enough, if you’re not getting it done on the field as a coach, they’ll recognize it pretty quick. If you have been a player, obviously you get a little bit of respect, because they know you’ve been through some of the same battles they have.
“But if you’re not a very good coach, it doesn’t matter what you say or what your background is, guys are going to tune you out pretty quick. They are interested in winning and getting better. If you can help them do that, they’ll listen to you.”
Of the current staff, Whisenhunt, Horton, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm, quarterbacks coach Chris Miller and assistant defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend played in the league. The majority did not.
“Once you get into (practices and meetings) you don’t think about it,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But if they played your position, it’s better because they understand you and the thoughts you have.”
The defensive backs may have the most interesting combo given the three latest hires. Horton played, but has been out of the game for 17 seasons. New defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi didn’t play (and in fact was on his first NFL coaching staff at age 19 as a Jets assistant). Meanwhile, Townsend not only played, but he was just playing as recently as November and will be learning the coaching ropes on the fly.
“I think the main thing a player wants is consistency,” Townsend said. “That’s what I wanted, to (have a coach) say one thing in July and to say the same thing in February. You don’t want a guy saying something and changing his mind. And be fair.
“You’re going to have to make decisions, but everyone in the room has to be accountable. I loved to have a coach who, when he made a mistake, he said it and when I made a mistake, he let me know. We have to grow that and teach them what we are looking for, but to be true professionals, those guys have to understand that’s the business of football.”
Tags: Chris Miller, coaching staff, Deshea Townsend, DRC, Ken Whisenhunt, Louie Cioffi, Ray Horton, Russ Grimm
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