Keith Armstrong is more or less universally respected as one of the NFL’s premier special teams coordinator, and one hell of a motivator. For all that, he hasn’t gotten more than cursory interviews as a head coaching candidate, which has always seemed odd to me.
We all recall his star turn on Hard Knocks under Mike Smith, with the “you ain’t good enough to be an asshole” entering the lexicon of Falcons fans. According to Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, that awesome outburst may have hurt Armstrong’s chances of getting a head coaching job.
Bruce Arians: Falcons' Armstrong might be a head coach if not for 'Hard Knocks' https://t.co/UtNdv8zgXJ— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) August 26, 2017
Here’s the relevant quote from McClure’s piece, which you should read in full.
"I think 'Hard Knocks' hurt him in his quest, because they showed him getting on the kid's ass so hard and made it look negative, when it was really a positive," Arians said, referring to the HBO documentary featuring the Falcons in 2014. "That's really want you want in your head coach."
Regardless of the perception from the show, Arians is confident Armstrong will be an NFL head coach at some point.
"He's a leader of men," Arians said. "He's got grit, toughness. He's a great family guy. His time will come, yes indeed."
If Arians is right, that’s a lousy reason not to hire Armstrong, considering that lots of less talented motivators who can shout just as loudly have jobs across the league. Armstrong’s talent as a coach is evident and his units typically are among the best in the league, which should be what matters.
I still think Armstrong will get his chance eventually, and he’s certainly deserving of one. As much as I’d hate to lose him, if the Falcons once again make a deep playoff run, their coordinators will all be up for grabs in a coaching-starved league.