Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Best of NFL: AFC South coaches
By Paul Kuharsky
As part of Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the AFC South:
Best no-nonsense assistant, John Teerlinck: Teerlinck, the Colts' defensive line coach, teaches technique, then expects his charges to master it. He’s straightforward and direct with players, who get no babying and can’t get away with excuses. While he has top-flight ends to work with in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, his interior linemen of late haven’t been of the highest quality. He doesn’t complain (most assistants don’t, mind you), he just rolls up his sleeves and gets to work with what he has with high expectations for performance and production.
Even in cold-weather games, Jack Del Rio is well-dressed.
Best dressed, Jack Del Rio: The Jaguars have three prime-time games in 2011 if we get the full schedule. Del Rio was a suit and tie guy before and has talked about breaking them out for games again. Now do Reebok suits qualify a guy for best dressed? The rumpled sportswriter is unqualified to say, but they certainly look more like off the rack than designer. Nobody in the division coaching ranks I can think of is going to be confused with Louis Vuitton. But Mr. Blackwell would have to at least appreciate the effort, especially if Del Rio misses the weekend coaches are supposed to wear Jaguars bowling shirts. He’s typically the best-dressed guy at team events and community appearances, and he’s not in Reebok at them.
Best sense of humor, Gary Kubiak: We poke fun at Houston's Kubiak at times for being such an aw-shucks type. But his self-effacing humor is no act. He’s pretty good at self-deprecating humor, and his timing and delivery of concise lines that produce a laugh can be excellent. Sometime all that serves to take the heat off the guys in his locker room -- which maybe isn’t always such a great thing. That said, it helps make him a coach his players love working for and makes for some humorous sound bites.
Best at weathering the cold, Bruce Matthews: Matthews, the Titans' offensive line coach, was part of offensive lines in Tennessee that had an internal rule -- if you don’t wear it for a game in September, you can’t wear it for a game in December. That means no long sleeves for a snowy game in Cleveland and other road trips to icy venues and no complaining about the elements. As a coach, he’s not going to roam the sideline in frigid locales in short sleeves. But I don’t imagine we’re going to see him flinch or get frostbite in a blizzard, either.
Best at sticking to his news conference plan, Jim Caldwell: Ask the Colts' coach the right sort of question, and you can get a helpful and insightful answer. But ask too specifically about strategy or philosophy or injury, especially leading into a game, and he’s going to answer politely with a smile without giving reporters anything much. I’ve done a word count of some of Caldwell's press sessions and come up with a remarkably low number. I don’t know that he’d be expansive in other circumstances, but in the Colts’ culture, he certainly isn’t. And he’s pretty good at it.