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A Stout Mindset, An Open-Minded Teacher

Posted Nov 10, 2016

Jeff Stoutland’s talent for leading players with different learning styles and personalities has given him a long, successful coaching career

Jeff Stoutland is a football coach through and through.

After all, he’s been coaching the game for over 32 years, starting as an inside linebackers coach with the Southern Connecticut State Fighting Owls (his alma mater) the very next season after his college playing career was over. He followed the example set by his head coach Kevin Gilbride, who would go on to coach for 23 seasons in the NFL, and his position coach Paul Pasqualoni, who has coached eight years at the NFL level and is now the defensive line coach at Boston College.

“Those two coaches, they were passionate, they were detailed,” recalls Stoutland. “I just enjoyed that whole thing and I knew right there that when I was done playing that I wanted to do that. I wanted to be like them.

“(Gilbride) was demanding, aggressive, kind of like me. You had to be accountable each and every day for what your responsibilities were and I liked that. I wanted to be coached like that.”

Now in his fourth season as the Eagles’ offensive line coach, Stoutland has built an impressive coaching career – including stops at Miami, Michigan State and Alabama on what he’s passionate about – teaching the game of football.

Stoutland grew up in the Staten Island borough of New York City, where his surroundings helped shape his mindset into what it is today, teaching him a thing or two about how to get the job done, no matter the situation.

“I guess as a kid I was kind of shy, but you can’t really be that shy growing up in New York. I don’t know if it influenced the way I am as a coach, but (I learned that) there’s got to be a plan and when you have a plan and you figure out what you’re trying to do and what you want to accomplish, then you need to set out and when I set out to do something, I’m pretty strong-minded,” Stoutland says. “When you have good players around you who believe in what you’re coaching and what you’re teaching, I think together you can get there.”

Stoutland’s never-back-down attitude led to his rise from the ranks of inside linebackers coach at Southern Connecticut State all the way to Alabama, where he coached some of the best offensive linemen at the collegiate level during his tenure, with Barrett Jones winning the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center and Chance Warmack being drafted 10th overall by Tennessee in 2013.

He made the jump to the NFL that same year, joining Chip Kelly on the Eagles’ staff. Since then, the Eagles have had very reliable play upfront, despite many different combinations of players.

From veterans like Jason Peters and Jason Kelce to rookies like Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo, Stoutland has been able to find different ways to teach each player, a trait that has followed him every step along the way of his coaching career.

“Everybody has a different way of learning and I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some people who have helped me to understand this,” Stoutland explains. “Some players need to be or enjoy being coached aggressively. Some people need one on one, sitting down and explaining it, and the players don’t want anyone to perceive that they’re not intelligent.

"Sometimes they’re not willing to ask a question in the meeting because they don’t want to look like they don’t understand, so if I target a player based on me thinking he didn’t really understand what I was saying, then I’ll grab him later on so that we don’t leave anything undetected. We’re turning over every stone trying to find ways to teach each and every player and everyone has their own style of learning.”

One of Stoutland’s biggest resources over the years when it comes to finding ways to connect to players has been his wife, Allison. Now, Allison is an acclaimed author of children’s books, but when the two were first married, she was an elementary school teacher.

An NFL meeting room and an elementary school classroom are obviously two very different environments, but according to Stoutland, there are absolutely teaching techniques that have translated to the game of football.

“She’s a motivational speaker as well so she has a lot of great ideas, and a lot of great thoughts that have helped me a lot through my career,” Stoutland says. “I coached in college for nearly 30 years and our players that we’ve coached, they’ve been in my homes many times and they’ve eaten many meals there. My wife and my kids are always involved with the players.

“When I came to the NFL, I didn’t know if that would fly very well, but I didn’t care, because again, that’s just the way I am. We’ve had the players over for dinners and I think they like that. I think that it’s more than just being in here all the time in the meeting room or on the field. I think you need to do other things outside of football if you’re really going to trust each other.”

All told, Stoutland has coached at nine different places throughout his three-plus decades as a football coach. He’s cemented himself as one of the most well-regarded offensive line coaches at any level. He’s a football lifer, a husband and a father, but at the end of the day, Jeff Stoutland is a teacher.

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