Former Rutgers head coach Doug Graber is back doing what he loves the most -- coaching defensive backs.
The new Jets secondary coach, who has been head coach of the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe for the past three seasons, was hired last week to replace Bill Bradley, who was fired after the season.
"I'm excited about it," Graber said yesterday from his Florida home. "I think it's going to be a challenge. I've really been a secondary coach all these years. I would rather coach the defensive backs than be a head coach or (defensive) coordinator. Even when I was the head coach, I was always down there with those guys. That's my passion.
"It's just a real challenge to put a secondary together. The secondary and offensive line are similar to me. Everybody's success depends on everybody else. It's such a challenge to get everyone on the same page. Defensive backs are totally unselfish players."
Graber inherits a secondary that has been maligned for its lack of speed and ability to cover man-to-man. The unit could have two new starters next season. Cornerback Aaron Beasley is almost certain to be released, and strong safety Sam Garnes may be cut, too. The Jets' 11 interceptions last season were the third-fewest in the NFL, and the only reason they ranked 10th in the NFL in pass defense was that everyone ran the ball on them.
"I'm going in with an open mind," Graber said. "I've heard a lot of things."
Three years ago, Graber interviewed with Jets coach Herman Edwards, who had just taken the job. The two had met in Tampa while Graber was broadcasting Bucs preseason games and doing a weekly television show in the late 1990s. Graber might have been hired then, but he had just taken the head job in Frankfurt and didn't want to back out and leave his assistants without a job.
"The time just wasn't right," Graber said.
Graber, 59, has been out of the NFL since 1989, when he finished a two-year stint as the Bucs defensive coordinator. Before that, he was the Chiefs secondary coach (1983-86). But he says he has kept abreast of the league and won't be a "babe in the woods."
Last weekend, he was co-head coach of the North team in the Gridiron Classic in Orlando, Fla., a college all-star game that was won by Graber's North team over the South, and he says he spotted a few prospects.
This season, Graber led the Galaxy to the World Bowl title in June. His defense ranked first in rushing yards per game (89.4), total yards per game (293.3) and points per game (18.2). The unit also had a league-high 14 interceptions.
"It was fantastic," Graber said of NFL Europe. "I loved it immensely. I had a great staff. We have great fun. My wife enjoyed it. My family. I'm glad I did it. I'll treasure those three years forever. The fans? I'll miss them so much. You'd be amazed if you ever saw a game over there."
Graber said this will be his first time back in the area since his days as the Rutgers head coach. He led to the Scarlet Knights to a 29-36-1 from 1990 to 1995.
"I think Rutgers, in most places, was a great experience," he said. "I enjoyed the people and the fans. We had success. It wasn't like we didn't win. It was just difficult to maintain success. I have the utmost respect for (athletic director) Bob Mulcahy.
"I haven't been back since I left. We're looking forward to getting back there and sitting in that stadium, which I'd like to think I had a little bit to do with being built. I haven't had a chance to follow the program that closely, but what I'm hearing is he (coach Greg Schiano) has the program going in the right direction."
A few weeks ago i read a great article on KFFL about how Marvin Lewis and Marty Shottenheimer are going to have a huge advantage in this years draft for coaching the senior bowl. Those 2 were coaches of the senior bowl and got to coach the players for 2 weeks. The other NFL coaches will see the players combine numbers and they got to watch the game, but spending 2 weeks with these guys gives you the ability to see if these guys are able to learn on the nfl level. The coaches got to see if guys were lazy, what kind of attitudes they have, they got to see what players really care and what ones are just along for the ride. Coaching those games is a huge advantage. In this article it says Graber got to coach in the North south game. This is a HUGE advantage for the Jets. Sure the senior bowl has the prestigious playes compared to the north south game that Graber coached, but now graber has the low down on the late round Gems that will come into the draft. The north south game is basically just that, a bunch of late round possible Gems and we got the info. Great news.
Orlando from NYC (1998) Las Vegas from Orlando Fl (june 2007)
:ph34r: exactly correct...I also remember when he wsas at Rutgers.....he had those kids playing even though they were not that talented...he will be a great fit not for the defensive backs. I look at the coaches we have picked up....not bad. Great attitudes etc.
Originally posted by jetsfreak@Feb 3 2004, 10:28 AM :ph34r: exactly correct...I also remember when he wsas at Rutgers.....he had those kids playing even though they were not that talented...he will be a great fit not for the defensive backs. I look at the coaches we have picked up....not bad. Great attitudes etc.
agree, graber may be the best hire...a great bridge to have a older (60 years old) DC/HC help the new DC and a neophye HC in Herm get a litle more polish....I think Graber will fill 4 roles; DB coach, asst. DC. asst. HC and game clock manager.....good pick up....
Orlando from NYC (1998) Las Vegas from Orlando Fl (june 2007)
:ph34r: very well said: Graber will influence the entire staff and he knows talent. Coaching at Rutgers against superior talent and still having his boys play well and alos coaching in NFL Europe shows that he can develop players and utilize talent. His influence will also help Henderson and Herm.
Originally posted by jetsfreak@Feb 3 2004, 10:38 AM :ph34r: very well said: Graber will influence the entire staff and he knows talent. Coaching at Rutgers against superior talent and still having his boys play well and alos coaching in NFL Europe shows that he can develop players and utilize talent. His influence will also help Henderson and Herm.
good point on having success in 'lesser talent' areas, i.e. Rutgers/Europe.
It reminds me of the old quote from a opposing coach on the merits of Bear Bryant:
"He can beat yourins with hissins and then take yourins and beat hissins"