Only One Speed For Joe CullenApril 15th, 2014
Joe recommends the latest “Meet The Coaches” feature on Buccaneers.com. Scott Smith goes deep with new defensive line coach Joe Cullen, Gerald McCoy’s sixth defensive line coach in five years.
Cullen, whose voice could land him in Mafia films, hits on a lot of topics in the roughly six-minute video, which prompted Joe to dive into further research.
That study led Joe to this long feature story on Cullen published by Cleveland.com. Cullen helped improve the Browns’ sack totals and yards-per-carry-allowed last season in his first year there before the ousting of Cleveland’s new regime.
Cullen, to say the least, is a high-energy guy, in the mold of his NFL mentor, Rod Marinelli.
Since joining the Browns staff in January, Cullen has molded a talented group of players into one of the NFL’s emerging defensive lines with shouts of “hand speed” and “violent hands” echoing in their collective cerebral cortex.
He can drive them like sled dogs on the practice field then treat them to his wife’s pastries every Friday afternoon. He is at once demanding and understanding, a position coach who’s learned from mistakes that nearly cost him his career seven years ago, and helps others in taming their own temptations.
Twenty-three years of coaching has not dulled his exuberance or attention to detail.
“Some coaches who were most influential to me were high-energy guys,” Cullen said. “Positive, but very intense. I’ve just carried that over throughout my career. I equate the (defensive line) position to a heavyweight fighter.
“When Mike Tyson got ready for a fight, he got ready for a fight. He didn’t go half speed through anything . . . It’s the same way with these guys. You can’t show up on game day and expect to play that way.”
Again, Joe recommends you grab a cold beverage, perhaps a spicy Skyy bloody mary, and enjoy. Cullen’s playing history as an undersized nose tackle was very interesting to Joe. That likely explains a lot.
Joe’s also learned hat “You can’t live soft and fight tough,” is one of Cullen’s core beliefs that he’ll be drilling daily to the Bucs defensive line. Interestingly, Cullen has long had a no-cursing goal for himself and his students, directly in the Lovie Smith mold.
Yes, the Bucs have had loud, high-energy, big-personality defensive line coaches before. Keith Millard was one, for sure. If you watched practice, you knew where Millard was, and players on other positions were often seen watching/listening to Millard. Bryan Cox shared the D-line coaching duties the past two seasons, and he surely was a commanding presence, not loud but very hands on.
Cullen seems to be at a higher intensity, minus the Pro Bowl resume. Joe’s very interested to see how his all-out, all-the-time mindset meshes with DaQuan Bowers, who really seems to need that kind of coach to get the most out of him. Here’s another peek at Cullen from his years in Jacksonville.