As John sees it, I'm here to help him in dealing with all the things that pass through the head coach's office. There's a lot of things on his plate, and really I'm at his service to help him in any way that I can, to make his day go smoother. For example, I'm the liaison with the equipment people, the grounds crew, scheduling, things such as that, communication with others in the building, offseason projects and things of that nature that I have to work on with the NFL. It's kind of one of those all-encompassing titles.
How would you describe your experience as the assistant head coach? Has it been eye-opening?
Because we have such a great building and because our staff is so unified, it's not like this is what I do all day. The most important thing I do is coach the special teams. I'm just helping John in these other areas. Our defensive staff and our offensive staff, the coordinators, we're all on the same page and we all get along so well. Long before we got here, this organization was a strong organization. Our ability to work with scouting and all of the people in the building and the various things that they do was built before we got here. So it wasn't like I had to come in and manufacture anything. I'm just doing my best to try to help.
Do you want to be a head coach at some point in your career?
I've got a great job. I can't imagine another job in the NFL that I'd rather have. I'm working with people that I care about — with John, with [defensive coordinator] Chuck [Pagano], with [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] and all these coaches. John and I go way back, and our families are close, and we have a fabulous organization. Obviously, we have a talented team, and we're winning. My family loves Baltimore and this area. So there's no job I'm going for.
But if someone called you about an interview for a vacancy?
If somebody called my office, I would pick up the phone. But that's what I always do. If you called me, I'd pick up the phone.
Who influenced you in your coaching career?
My path has been different than a lot of others. My path started in high school. I was a high school coach. But probably, my interest in coaching is because I enjoyed playing so much. I was on a very successful college team [an All-America linebacker at North Dakota State], and I had an absolute blast playing. I had a lot of friends and it was so much fun, and then you graduate and move on and you kind of miss that camaraderie. I was a high school teacher [at Fargo Shanley in Fargo, North Dakota] and what better way of doing it than being on another team? One of my mentors was one of my college coaches, a guy by the name of Jim Driscoll, and Jim Driscoll was a great coach. He moved from my college to Northern Michigan University, and I went and coached summer camps at Northern Michigan. And it just so happened that at this summer camp, there were some big-time college coaches. Great coaches, not just college coaches – Henry Bullough [a former defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers], Steve Mariucci [former head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions]. We had a number of major college coaches that would go up to Northern Michigan as a vacation spot. They would coach in the morning and then go fish in the afternoon and after we got done with the last practice, we'd have a barbecue and talk ball. I was hooked at that point. I loved not only the Xs and Os that they were talking, but how passionate they were about the game and all the players they were talking about. I was a high school coach at the time, and on a whole different scale, I said, 'This is something I want to do, too. I want to get involved in this.' So a couple years later, I got an opportunity to assist. I went to graduate school at Northern Michigan and I coached at Northern Michigan for six years and then I went to Western Michigan – where I met my wife [Sherry] – and then I went to [the University of] Cincinnati where John and I were on the staff together. Then I went to [the University of] Minnesota for a brief time, then Boston College, then Notre Dame, then to Cleveland, then to Atlanta and then I came here to Baltimore. My path has been a long one. My mom used to say that I was advancing in my profession, and my mother-in-law used to say that I couldn't keep a job. Two different perspectives.
What led you to coach special teams?