On Thursday, reporters covering the Kansas City Chiefs had their first chance to query new defensive line coach (and “run game coordinator” — whatever that means) Brendan Daly.
Daly, 43, was hired on February 9 as part of the complete overhaul of the defensive coaching staff under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. He came to Kansas City from the New England Patriots, where he spent four seasons as defensive line coach and another as a defensive assistant. From 2009-11, he was the defensive line coach for the Los Angeles Rams under Spagnuolo.
While Daly didn’t want to get in to the specifics of conversations he had with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid before his hiring, what he said to reporters made it pretty clear why Reid was willing to sign off on him. He was asked if he thought he had grown as a coach while with the Patriots — where he accumulated three Super Bowl rings.
”I’d like to think I’ve grown over the course of my career, to be honest,” he replied. “If I’m the same coach that I was when I started this thing, then I haven’t done a whole lot that’s worthwhile. I think that’s my goal each and every day: to come in to the office and get better. I hope that’s what happened in my time [with the Patriots], but I hope that’s what happened at Oklahoma State, Villanova and Drake as well.”
That’s just the kind of answer Reid might give to a similar question. And when asked about the challenges he faces in his new job, he gave another strikingly Reidish response.
”This is a challenge in another way in terms of installing a new scheme, working with new players, developing relationships within the position rooms, the unit rooms and even across to the offense. I’m a person that enjoys challenges, to be quite honest — and I think that’s how you grow. If you stay in your comfort zone as an individual in anything that you’re doing, it becomes stagnant.”
But when asked if his three Super Bowl championships with the Patriots gave him additional credibility with Chiefs players, Daly echoed another Chiefs head coach.
”I’m less focused on that than I am trying to instill a culture of habits, a culture of how we work, a culture of how we practice and a culture of fundamentals and technique — as I’ve said to them several times, eliminating bad football and playing good, sound, fundamental football. If [my experience with the Patriots] helps me do that, then that’s great — but I’m not necessarily focused on that.”
During the disastrous 2012 season under head coach Romeo Crennel, there was a sign outside the Chiefs locker room that read, “Eliminate Bad Football.” After the Chiefs went 1-5 to open the season, Crennel replaced it with a sign reading, “Play Good Football.”
While it probably won’t go down as the worst locker room sign in franchise history — Todd Haley’s infamous “Losers assemble in small groups and complain about the coaches and other players. Winners assemble as a team and find ways to win” probably holds that title for eternity — Crennel’s sign came under media scrutiny as the team cratered with a 2-14 record.
Obviously, the sign didn’t work. And you can’t blame any Chiefs fan for feeling uneasy that a new defensive coach might bring up a phrase that carries such a bad vibe.
But in Daly’s defense, he probably has no idea about the bad connotations associated with the phrase among Chiefs fans. It’s also worth noting that both Daly and Crennel had previously coached in New England under Bill Belichick and could have picked up the phrase during their time there. Back in April, former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia — now head coach of the Detroit Lions — also used the phrase, saying that he was on a crusade to eliminate bad football in Detroit.
But even if Daly learned a phrase that could strike fear into the heart of a Chiefs fan while he was in New England, Spagnuolo sees his experience there as an advantage.
“Brendan went up there and leaned from one of the best — if not the best — coach in football: coach Belichick,” Spagnuolo told the press on Thursday. “He’s brought a lot of that here. I pick his brain — you know, ‘What would Bill have done here?’ — so it’s nice to have; a good resource to go to.”
And it’s unlikely that any Chiefs fan is going to have a problem with what Daly said when he was asked about Reid’s statement that new Chiefs defenders Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu play at 100 miles an hour.
”I think that’s important for a football team as a whole,” he responded. “If you’re not out here giving the maximum effort and everything you’ve got — [making] a full commitment to this thing — we’ve got a problem. That’s coaches, players, trainers and equipment people. Winning is hard — extremely hard. And it takes everyone involved. That’s important for everybody [who] has whatever role they’ve got in this thing.”
There’s also a lot to like in his response to a question about two Chiefs players who have performed well under their expectations in Kansas City: former second-round draft picks Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks.
”Both guys have done a nice job through the offseason here.” Daly said. “They’ve done a really good job trying to pick up the scheme, to understand the different calls and the different adjustments within the calls. I’ve been impressed there. Both guys have been working at multiple positions, so there’s been another level of understanding that’s gone on there. So I’ve been impressed with both of them from a mental standpoint and how they’ve handled things. Both of them are working hard. You see improvement each and every day. It’s a process, but we’re working through it.”
That, too, is something Reid might say.