INDIANAPOLIS – Pete Carroll counts Monte Kiffin as one of his most important mentors, and the Seattle Seahawks coach believes Kiffin is back where he belongs: in the NFL.
Kiffin spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee and Southern Cal with his son, Lane, as head coach and did not have the same success as he had in a 12-year run as Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator.
The Cowboys hired Kiffin this offseason to replace Rob Ryan at defensive coordinator and implement the 4-3 scheme.
“I think he brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and understanding, an extraordinary ability to analyze and evaluate and his communication skills with the players on this level,” Carroll said. “I think there was some issue for him in college that he was just so far out there with how he coached and what he understands and what it takes to play on this level that it didn’t translate as easily as he would’ve liked (in college). I think the Cowboys are lucky to get him, and I think he’ll be a great asset.”
Several players have said Kiffin told them to study Carroll’s defense in Seattle as a way the Cowboys would play in 2013, but when he met the local media last week Kiffin hedged.
“We play a similar scheme we have for years,” Kiffin said. “I was at the Bucs and Pete was at Southern Cal and we would talk all the time. We’ve kind of played that scheme. It just so happens that he’s at Seattle and they happened to play pretty well this year, but they do play some single-high safety and have some good corners that can bump. And we play cover-2 and they play cover-2. That’s where you hear about this Seattle deal. But we are also very much the Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, without a doubt.”
Carroll was a graduate assistant for Kiffin at Arkansas in 1977 and when Kiffin took over at N.C. State, Carroll became his defensive coordinator from 1980-82.
“We’re real disciplined to our scheme,” Carroll said. “We’ve always been a very, very disciplined group, and it stated way back when about doing things right and execution. It’s not just slugging guys and running around and hitting. You think it would be, but there’s a lot to it. So it’s a very disciplined approach to the game, play with speed whenever we can. A real aggressive style is how we’ve done it and all those kinds of phrases started with Coach Kiffin a long, long time ago for me.”