“They Don’t Care Who I Was”June 13th, 2012
Former Pro Bowl linebacker Bryan Cox, known for his versatility, intensity and all out insanity on the football field (Joe highly recommends the 1997 Sports Illustrated feature on Cox), as well as being a noted favorite player of legends Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, is the Bucs’ new “defensive front seven” coach. Cox dove into NFL coaching in 2006, four years after his stellar career ended. His connection with Greg Schiano goes back to the Chicago Bears, when Cox was playing for Dave Wannstedt and Schiano was there as an assistant coach. Joe had a chance fire a few questions at Cox this week, and Cox was quite candid and considerate.
JoeBucsFan.com: Having been around legendary coaches like Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, who Greg Schiano says is a mentor, what are the similarties with Schiano? Where do you see some parallels with Greg Schiano and those types of demanding leaders?
Bryan Cox: The biggest thing that I would say is that I feel like I played for three Hall of Fame guys in Coach Don Shula, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. All three of those guys are Hall of Fame guys. It’s a shame that Bill Parcells didn’t get there [during the 2012 Hall vote]. So when you talk about those three guys that I played for, they were different yet the same. Of course Belichick is a little bit more similar to Parcells because that’s who he grew up under. Shula was a man’s coach. So he let men be men and just laid the expectation out and let you go. Parcells and Belichick are more of, they want to oversee the process. They want to look at everything. And they want one word coming out of the organization, there’s one way to do things, this is how it is. I think Greg would be more on that line. I don’t like to compare people because everbody is different; nobody is the same. But I think when you look at Greg, you look at discipline, you look at a guy that has unbelievable passion, you look at a guy that understands the game of football, and he has a clear vision. And when you tie that together, that would be one of the bigger traits that the Don Shula’s, the Bill Belichick’s, the Bill Parcell’s had, they all knew what they wanted. They all had an exact vision of how they saw it going. And I think that’s the thing you’d say about Greg.
Joe: These Bucs players now, do they have any clue as to your background and your style of play?
Cox: The one thing I’ve learned as a young coach is that they don’t care who I was. Some of them know and some of them don’t have a clue about me, but the ones that know, they want to lean on my experience as a player a little bit and they usually give you the benefit of the doubt until you prove you don’t know what you’re talking about. And so that’s been the biggest thing in this process. The players that have an idea, or that have researched, that have Googled or YouTubed, they will come in and say, ‘Ok, I remember this. I’ll lean on you for this.’ And they may ask you more questions. They’re a little more comfortable. They trust you a little more until you prove you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Joe: Looking at film of the Bucs’ defense last year, would you say there’s one major area of improvement that needs to be stepped up?
Cox: I think it’s unfair for me to speak about last year having not been here.
Joe: But I’m just asking about what you saw.
Cox: I think it’s unfair because you don’t know what they’re being taught or what’s being said because you’re just watching film and you’re just looking at it. The thing that, you know, the thing that you would say in any situation when you come into it is, ‘Something obviously didn’t go well last year for this new staff to here in place. So let’s start from scratch, I’m not holding you to what occurred last year. I’ll make my own opinion to who you are as a player as we move forward.’ So that’s the biggest thing. I don’t try to put last year’s expectations or lack of expectations, or lack of whatever it was, on a player, just kind of move forward and say here’s what we’re going to do.
Joe: How is Bryan Cox the coach different from Bryan Cox the player?
Cox: The coach is different because I’m wiser and more experienced. I’m not as vocal. It’s not a physical thing; it’s a mental thing now. And that would be the difference between who I am in my old age and who I was in my young age.