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Coaching Duo Should Help LBs

Posted Feb 28, 2013

While Eagles fans get used to a mostly brand new coaching staff, there are at least some familiarities in many of the job titles. Sure, Sports Science Coordinator grabbed some attention early on, but, for the most part, the ranks of position coaches raised few eyebrows. Except, that is, for the presence of Rick Minter and Bill McGovern, inside linebackers coach and outside linebackers coach, respectively.

What to make of the presence of two linebackers coaches? Is it an implicit statement that the Eagles will play a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Billy Davis? How will their duties be split? The answer many of the questions, it turns out, is that we don’t know yet.

"As much as we're figuring out what our players can do, we're figuring out what we can do as a staff can do to help our guys get better and get guys on the field," said McGovern. "We're all exchanging ideas, working together and we're all going to help each other out. We're just trying to get the best 11 guys on the field for us on our side of the ball, get the best guys on the field for the Eagles and hopefully win as many games as we can."

McGovern's coaching experience comes exclusively on the college level, where he's spent the last 27 years. Most recently, he was the linebackers coach at Boston College, where he helped get the best out of a pair of ACC Defensive Players of the Year in Mark Herzlich (2008) and Luke Kuechly (2011).

Minter also comes from the college ranks, where he helped lead and build many programs, most recently as the defensive coordinator at Kentucky. Minter is also the winningest head coach in Cincinnati history, where he coached from 1994-2003. Along the way, he came in close contact with several Eagles, including Brent Celek, Vinny Curry, Casey Matthews, Kurt Coleman and, most prominently, Trent Cole, whom Minter recruited and coached. Minter even joked that he "absolutely" was fully responsible for Cole's NFL success.

Now, though, both are working on an NFL staff for the first time and working together for the first time.

"Well it's going to be a team effort on our entire staff led by Billy Davis," Minter said. "It's a larger staff than you might see and, in fact, we've got about eight guys in the room total counting our assistants. We almost view everybody equal. That is, when we close the door, everybody's going to have a say in what we do; we're going to put our heads together.

"Right now, it's going to be evaluating our kids, see what they can do best, what we can do to put them in a position to be successful."

The Eagles linebackers may have more coaching expertise to lean on than any other position. In addition to McGovern and Minter, Davis is also a linebacker specialist as he comes to the Eagles after serving most recently as the linebackers coach for the Cleveland Browns. The size of the defensive staff, Minter believes, should help the players on the Eagles roster get better, more focused, coaching.

"I believe there's strength in numbers," he said. "This particular group of eight is a unique group in the sense that I think the chemistry is outstanding already ... The fact that each kid will be more and more specialized in his own instruction and coaching, you know I'll be only handling two guys, is really good. I've had a system where I've had all three or four guys, depends on your system. Any time you're in a meeting room and let's say you're talking to the inside 'backers, and there are other guys in the room, they kind of tune you out. So you'd like to say in the long run, we'll be a better instructed team, a better coached team by the strength of our coaching room and we'll translate that into the kids and then onto the practice field and into the stadium."

For now, McGovern and Minter don't know what specific scheme they'll be teaching or even, necessarily, who they'll be coaching. Minter, though, was willing to outline what he'll be looking for inside.

"The man in the middle will be our quarterback of the defense, so we'll have a lot of responsibility with that," he said. "We've got an old pro in DeMeco (Ryans) and a young guy in Mychal (Kendricks) and all those other guys who will be competing for playing time and I look forward to that challenge."

McGovern, meanwhile, was willing to describe what he expects to see out of the Eagles defense and, specifically, out of the outside linebackers. McGovern said the goal is for other teams around the NFL to put on the coaching tape next season and identify the players on the field as playing "Eagles football." So what constitutes "Eagles football"?

"We want guys who are going to go for 60 minutes," he said, "guys who are going to be physical, guys who are going to play to the whistle, guys who are going to play hard and they're going to give it everything they've got."

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