Earlier this week, our own Craig Stout explained how Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and the team’s new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, are breaking new ground via a clean sweep of the defensive position coaches.
STOUT: Without exception, every single position coach on the defensive side of the ball was axed or moved less than a month after the Chiefs lost the AFC Championship in overtime to the New England Patriots.
Spagnuolo held his opening conference call with the local Kansas City media this week, and we learned that we perhaps jumped the gun a little bit regarding the Chiefs’ scheme change.
Spagnuolo also spoke about his process of finding his position coaches.
“Andy (Reid) and I put our heads together,” Spagnuolo said. “It was a little bit of a long process, but I think it was long for a good reason. I think we got the right people. You’re right in the fact that many of these guys I have a history with, and that’s really, really important. Especially, when you start out this process, even in the meetings that we’ve had, we started right out with terminology because you can’t fit in here and talk football unless you’re all speaking the same language. Believe it or not, every team you go to has a little bit of a different language. We’re all on the same page, we’re advanced that way. In other words, the guys that are here working together have spoken very similar language. We’re trying to put something together that will work. Having guys that know each other a little bit I thought was really, really important.”.
Spagnuolo had the opportunity to talk about the coaches individually with the organization’s digital media team—the following video content courtesy of old friend BJ Kissel.
Spagnuolo on defensive backs (safeties) coach Dave Merritt
SPAGNUOLO: “Dave and I have been together for a while. It’s been stints in New York, a total of five years I believe. [I have] a lot of trust in Dave. He works great with the players. He’s a guy that can coach all four back there. He’ll concentrate a little bit more on the safeties, but he’s a guy I can bounce things off coverage-wise, and you need that when you sit in this (defensive coordinator) position. You can’t do it alone and Dave, I’ve always been able to rely on to help me out in that regard.”
Shortly after we learned that Merritt would coach the Chiefs defensive backs, I began doing some research and quickly found this video:
While the media opportunity is from three years ago, Merritt’s attention to detail jumps out. I like how much effort Merritt seemingly puts in to find ways to make each player better.
Spagnuolo on defensive backs (cornerbacks) coach Sam Madison
SPAGNUOLO: “My man Sam Madison. I love Sam. I loved him when I was coaching him as a player. I’ve watched Sam since he’s been done playing, commit himself to being a teacher and a coach. He’s worked with getting guys ready for the combine, he worked himself into a high school coach and it doesn’t matter what level of football. If you’re teaching and working with players, you’re learning the skills to be a football coach. And he knows our scheme. He knows the way we want certain things taught. He was great at receiving and absorbing it when he was a player and I think he’ll be able to take that same thing and spread it out to the players and help them here.”
This will be Madison’s first professional coaching opportunity—and I actually like that a lot. In my experience, there is hardly anything more motivating than wanting to succeed at your first job, and I would expect Madison to bring the energy the Chiefs cornerbacks need.
I also like that Madison has been a player under Spagnuolo before. Madison could provide the younger players in the room an additional ear as they become accustomed to the way Spagnuolo operates.
Spagnuolo on linebackers coach Matt House
SPAGNUOLO: “Matt and I were together in St. Louis. He was just a quality control coach at that point and he worked with everybody—the front, and actually, I think he worked with the DBs a little bit. What I think Matt brings to us is he’s been in the SEC for a number of years here. And we all know that offensive football in college is making its way to the NFL. There’s certain ways to defend it. He’ll be ahead of the curve on that because he’s been doing it for the last five to eight years, and he’s been very successful at it, so I think there’s great value there in having Matt.”
Jay Binkley of 610 Sports Radio had a great interview with Matt Jones of KentuckySportsRadio.com, who initially broke the news of House coming to Kansas City.
Jones explained that House opting to leave Kentucky, where he had a defensive coordinator role, likely means he is on that track in Kansas City.
Also, Spagnuolo’s point about bringing a college eye to the NFL makes a lot of sense, given the shift in NFL offenses we’ve seen in recent years.