Bryan Cox is interviewing with the Falcons, so I thought it might make sense to ask someone in the know what Cox accomplished while working with Mike Nolan in Miami and in Tampa Bay under Greg Schiano.
What I got back was a decidedly mixed report. Bear in mind that even for plugged-in fans like Sander Phillipse at Bucs Nation and Kevin Nogle at The Phinsider are going to struggle to tell you where a pass rush coach's influence begins and where the head coach and defensive coordinator's influence ends.
Nonetheless, great insight below.
Bryan Cox's role with the Buccaneers was a bit confusing. He was the team's defensive front seven coach in 2012 and became the pass rush specialist in 2013, but we don't really know what he actually did. All we have to go on are the front seven results over two seasons -- which resulted in a good run defense, and a horribly deficient pass rush.
How much of that was his fault is unclear, though, as Greg Schiano had a heavy hand in everything the defense did. The outside consensus at least is that the Bucs used their personnel poorly. They introduced a surprising amount of 3-4 concepts while they had 4-3 personnel, and asked Adrian Clayborn to play with his hand off the ground, which did not help him look better. In fact, the Bucs consistently did things to make their players look worse, and the defensive ends in particular could never get a pass rush going.
One of the most infuriating things was a constant insistence on a large amount of stunts, most of which were ineffective. Worse, the Bucs involved Gerald McCoy heavily in those stunts -- effectively taking their best pass rusher out of the game. It wasn't until midway through the second season after Gerald McCoy had a sitdown with the coaches that they largely stopped doing that, and the results were immediate: 7.5 sacks over the team's final seven games. That said, a lot of what he did would have worked had he had different personnel.
How much of the issues were on Cox, though? I can't tell you that, because we just don't know exactly what he did and what everyone else did. But his results in Tampa were less than stellar.
@TheFalcoholic ...the time, so I'm not really sure how much he helped the team, given both players were already Pro Bowlers before that....— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) January 9, 2014
@TheFalcoholic ...Mike Nolan's defensive system was all about providing different looks and attacking with the pass rushers, so I am...— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) January 9, 2014
@TheFalcoholic ...sure there was some benefit to Cox being on the coaching staff, especially in continuting to work with Wake in getting...— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) January 9, 2014
@TheFalcoholic ...better techniques. Cox has a ton of knowledge and obviously had a very successful career, so havig him on the staff...— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) January 9, 2014
@TheFalcoholic ...is always going to be a benefit. I just can't say exactly how much of a benefit it was.— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) January 9, 2014
@TheFalcoholic No problem. I think probably could be good DL coach. Just based on knowledge he has & apparent desire to help young guys.— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) January 9, 2014
Thanks to both Sander and Kevin for sharing their analysis with us. Thoughts on this feedback, and whether it makes you think Cox's hiring is more or less likely?