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You will read plenty of well-deserved odes this week to former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy, who announced his retirement Monday from the Colts. Many of them, like this fine story from my NFC South colleague Pat Yasinskas, will center around Dungy's even-keeled personality and leadership skills.
But what many people might forget is that before he finally got a head coaching job in 1996, Dungy was an excellent tactician and had a resume bulging with accomplishments as a defensive coach.
Consider this nugget: Dungy's last assistant coaching job came as Minnesota's defensive coordinator from 1992-'95. The Vikings' defense finished in the NFL's top 8 in three of his four seasons, including a No. 1 ranking in 1993. In the 13 seasons since he departed, the Vikings' defense has made it to the top 10 only twice and overall has averaged a No. 21 ranking.
Dungy always believed in fast players and aggressive schemes, relying on an approach that succeeded only when players knew exactly where they were supposed to be on every call. That was a testament to his confidence and ability as a coach, and it led to the advent of the so-called "Tampa-2" defense currently in widespread use around the NFL.
Among the scheme's settling spots is Minnesota, of all places. The Vikings have come full circle and hired two of Dungy's understudies -- Mike Tomlin and Leslie Frazier -- as their last two defensive coordinators.