Broncos get Right Coach for the Job

The Denver Broncos recently hired a good friend and college teammate as the newest member of their coaching staff. Craig Aukerman was named defensive assistant coach after serving in the college ranks for ten years. I’m extremely proud of my friend and do not have a doubt in my mind that he will be an asset to their coaching staff. Craig has always displayed greatness on and off the field and I am confident that he will continue to be just that.

As we talked yesterday on the phone I asked him what he thought of the playbook and the sytem the Broncos exercise on defense… As I expected, he mentioned learning the extensive playbook would be his first challenge as a new coach in a new system. – Knowing Craig though, he will impress the coaching staff in Denver with his work ethic and football intelligence; and ultimately learn the playbook.Earlier today I read some cynical comments on Bronco blogs negatively portray the Bronco’s hire due to his small college experience at Western Kentucky, Miami (Ohio), and Kent State. I don’t want to bash the fans because they are the reason the NFL is what it is, but if you are hating on a guy because of where he learned to be a coach I have to ask the question… Are college athletes really that different in the MAC than they are in the Big 10 or the ACC or even the SEC? Does teaching a five-star collegiate athlete better suit a coach for the next level compared to teaching a three-star athlete? – I pose this rhetorical question because I don’t know the answer from a psychological perspective… From a physical ability standpoint I think generally we all agree that athletes are better equipped at Ohio State University than they are at Ohio Northern Universtiy but that’s the obvious.Here’s an example: Take a small college safety compared to a NFL safety reading the eyes of a quarterback from a cover-three zone. This means that the defensive player is watching the quarterback prepare to throw the ball and then breaking in the direction of the pass as soon as he believes he knows where the pass is going. A small college safety who runs a 4.6 second forty yard dash may have great instincts and as a result have many pass break ups and interceptions throughout the course of a season. The NFL safety who runs a 4.3 forty yd. dash may have decent instincts but not as many pass break ups or interceptions over the course of a season despite having more opportunity and more physical ability- Granted the quarterback play is much better at the NFL level so it’s not entirely an apples to apples comparison but it works for the sake of our discussion. Also assume the atheltes are similar in their preparation, intelligence, and reaction time; however, one is simply physically superior to the other. From a coaching perspective, if a coach is teaching the small college athlete what to look for in the quarterback’s progression and he is anticipating where the ball is going and is correct with his assumption, but he just isn’t fast enough to make a play on the ball; there’s not much else a coach can do or say to improve that athlete.While the athletes Aukerman coached at his previous assignments may not be capable of making plays in the NFL, I can assure the bloggers of Denver nation that they were well-coached and better men because of him. His ability and potential as a coach is part of the reason the Broncos hired him, but also measured by the Broncos organization is the quality of man becoming a part of their team and community. Don’t forget that building a TEAM takes more than talent sports fans. Jim Collins stresses in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Other’s Don’t, the importance of having the right people in the right places to ensure your company, brand, or team’s success. Craig Aukerman might not be the powerful household name Bronco fans were expecting but either was Josh McDaniels when he came to town. The 33-year-old had a lot to prove in Denver and I look for the new 33-year-old Aukerman to do the same.

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