Keith Millard Talks To Joe (Part II)January 25th, 2012
Perhaps the most magnetic and electric member of Raheem Morris’ staff was defensive line coach Keith Millard, who joined the Bucs in 2011. Aside from the two-time All-Pro credentials, Millard is a commanding presence at 6-6 with a raspy, booming, old-school coaching voice. At training camp, Joe remembers talking to Aqib Talib and other defensive players who said they felt Millard’s presence pumping up the entire defense.
Of course, Millard was fired along with the entire Bucs coaching staff nearly three weeks ago. He has now joined the Tennessee Titans as a defensive line coach.
Last week, Joe had an in-depth football discussion with Millard and found a man who has found a mant that was dejected about losing the opportunity to work with the Bucs’ young defensive linemen, a group Millard thinks is an extraordinary collection of talented, high-character players that can become a standout unit in the NFL.
Joe talked to Millard about the Bucs’ defensive line and more — some on the record, some off — and below is Part II of the interview. Part I ran last week.
JoeBucsFan.com: Albert Haynesworth seemed to be doing his share of freelancing on the D-line and was in and out of his gaps. Was that a problem when you’re trying to coach young guys?
Keith Millard: When Albert got here, I remember when Albert played at Tennessee, he was a very disruptive force. But they didn’t really play a lot of technique. [Former Titans defensive line coach Jim] Washburn was about getting off, getting up field, but not about reacting to the run and technique to react to the run. Albert was a little behind in that facet when he got to Tampa, even in the preparation to know what’s coming and how to help yourself, He just wasn’t schooled on anticipating and taking things away before they even happen. That was all new to him. Even his stance, that made it different for him to the play the blocks [Tampa Bay] would get week in and week out … He was getting two-hole scooped. They were blocking two guys with one guy. … He was pretty beat up when we got him and and not practicing much and only playing on Sundays. That really didn’t create a situation where he was going to improve much with us coming in late with little practice time.
Joe: The Bucs’ run defense had a miserable year. Where do you think the big failures were there?
Millard: It was a combination. Tackling was a major problem across the team. I already talked about what losing Gerald [McCoy] meant to the whole defense because he was making guys better around him. Other injuries. Albert [Haynesworth] getting two-hole scooped. You can’t really point it to one thing. We certainly take our responsibilty on the D-line, but it wasn’t all on us.
Joe: How would you compare and contrast DaQuan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn? Who was the better player when the season ended?
Millard: They’re both young players. Clayborn played more. Bowers had the slow start because of knee. He was healthy; It was just precautionary coming off surgery. As the season rolled on he played his way into shape mentally and physically and he made plays. For both guys, you had no offseason, OTAs, or a full training camp. You’re trying play catch-up the whole time with their technique. Clayborn had a pretty good year for a rookie. Clayborn could have been better, for sure, with a better supporting cast. The one thing that really impressed me was he put the time in. He put in the film work. He didn’t miss practice. You couldn’t get him to take a snap off. He can improve on everything, but he had a great start. And it’s a good young group. If they can get some depth over there across the line, then you’ll have something special.
Joe: Do you think the Bucs’ D-line has the personnel to play a 3-4 defense?
Millard: That’s a lot of speculation and I really don’t want to get into that. Not every 3-4 is the same. A guy like Michael Bennett could be a pretty good outside linebacker. I’m not really sure about Clayborn. You gotta have the speed to be a rush backer. You got to be able to come out of a 2-point stance. You gotta understand coverages. But a lot of guys have done it and have done it with success. Whether that’s a good fit for Bowers and Clayborn, I can’t say.
Joe: Given the makeup of the current Bucs roster, do you see a real locker room and/or on field leader coming from the D-line?
Millard: To me, it has to come from there. Because of their age, we have legitimate bonafide future leaders in that room. Brian Price, Mike Bennett, Gerald McCoy. They’ve vocal. Gerald hasn’t been healthy, so it’s hard, almost impossible to lead when you’re not on the field. It’s really hard to voice your opinion or get your guys going if you’re not out there. But those guys have the toughness and character to lead. You want to follow your warriors who put out for you every Sunday. I’m telling you, Mike Bennett definitely is one of those guys. … Roy Miller more leads by example. Clayborn’s probably in the category, too. I’m telling you though, it’s a great core group of dedicated guys that really can become the best group in the league. I really believe that and I miss those guys. These guys were coming in on Tuesdays looking to work, watch film, anything. They’re hard workers.
Joe: What went wrong in the second half the season? Respected former players, from Deion Sanders to John Lynch said a lot of Bucs quit on Raheem Morrs. Was that fair criticism?
Millard: I’m not going to get into that. You look at the film and judge for yourself. It’ll answer your question. Anybody can look at the film and see that. We lost 10 games in a row. I really don’t want to get into that. I know my guys didn’t quit. They played hard week in and week out as hard as they could. They were running to the ball.