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28.09.2018, 11:31
Although Wade Phillips is deep in the grind of his 41st NFL training camp Ryan O'Reilly Jersey (http://www.officialsabres.com/authentic-adidas-ryan-o_reilly-jersey) , the defensive coordinator who has seen it all still doesn’t know exactly what he has with the Los Angeles Rams.

Until NFL defensive player of the year Aaron Donald ends his holdout, Phillips’ defense will be missing its most important piece. If Donald reports soon and develops chemistry with newcomer Ndamukong Suh, the Rams could have a fearsome front line on one of the best defenses in Phillips’ lengthy coaching history.

Don’t expect Phillips to get worried about a little uncertainty, though. To a coach who has been in the NFL longer than all of his players have been alive, Donald’s absence is just another minor obstacle in a major quest for another Super Bowl ring.

”Sometimes it’s a chess game, and sometimes it’s just coaching,” Phillips said. ”Seeing if you can improve players no matter who they are.”

So while Phillips wants Donald in camp – ”Tomorrow would be good, but we’re off tomorrow,” he said Monday night – he has plenty to occupy himself at UC Irvine.

”It’s always interesting to me,” Phillips said. ”No matter what, even if you have the same guys, it’s a new team every year. Just to see them building together. We’ve got some new faces certainly on defense that they’ve got to meld in with what everybody else does, and they’re doing that well. So it’s fun for me.”

The 71-year-old Phillips’ unlikely partnership with 32-year-old head coach Sean McVay appears to be going stronger than ever in its second season. After they teamed up to resurrect the Rams in one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in recent years, they’re focused on building on that 11-win, NFC West championship season with a roster restocked with veteran NFL talent.

While McVay was the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, Phillips is now the third-oldest active coach in the NFL, behind only 75-year-old Kansas City assistant Emmitt Thomas and Houston defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

McVay lavishly praises Phillips at any opportunity, both for his tactical acumen and his veteran perspective on everything from big-picture game planning to the daily length of practices.

”He’s got such a great way about himself,” McVay said. ”He’s always got such a good perspective where it doesn’t really get too high. Sometimes I can get a little bit high-strung, if you can believe that. … That experience is so valuable Richard Panik Jersey (http://www.officialcoyotes.com/authentic-adidas-richard-panik-jersey) , being able to have him as a sounding board.”

Until Donald reports, Phillips has plenty to do.

Most prominently, the Rams are working to identify the successor to Alec Ogletree, their leading tackler and defensive signal-caller for the past two years. After Ogletree was shipped to the New York Giants in a cost-cutting move to make room for Aqib Talib’s contract, Phillips knew he would have to find a new leader.

Despite the additional losses of cornerback Trumaine Johnson and Robert Quinn, Phillips knows he could have one of the best defenses of his long career because of its top-end talent. After he overhauled an already solid unit last season by implementing a 3-4 scheme, Los Angeles added elite cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Talib along with Suh, who will be primarily a nose tackle for the first time in his career.

”Everybody has to be good, but I think there’s a difference (between) good and dominant,” Phillips said. ”We’ve got some dominant players. I think that will really help the rest of the guys.”

Phillips and McVay also find different ways to fill their down time. They shared a mutual ignorance of Fortnite, the wildly popular video game, before Phillips recently surpassed the cultural awareness of his millennial boss, who doesn’t have time for much of anything except football.

Phillips started watching his 6-year-old grandson playing the game, and while Phillips still hasn’t picked up a controller, he’s pretty sure he could handle himself.

Oh, and he also got a “Fortnite Legend” T-shirt , which amused his players endlessly.

”I would have a pretty good squad, I think, if I played,” he said with a completely straight face. ”I don’t know if I could save the world or not. I might win the Battle Royale.”

Sitting beneath a television at the Gruden family home in Florida are boxes filled with recordings of dozens of games coached by Jon or Jay in the NFL and Arena Football League.

There isn’t a single loss on any of those discs. That’s not because either of the brothers is unbeaten Jean-Gabriel Pageau Jersey (http://www.officialsenators.com/authentic-adidas-jean-gabriel-pageau-jersey) , of course. It’s because Dad, a former assistant in the pros and college himself, wants nothing to do with the setbacks. He refuses to sit through live broadcasts of his sons’ games. Why? There’s no way to know how they’ll end, he blames himself when something goes wrong, and the nerves are just too much.

“I’ll watch the whole game afterward — if they win. I won’t watch any game that they lose,” Jim Gruden said during a telephone interview. “Some nights, when there’s nothing on TV or nothing to do, we’ll put one on and enjoy it again. I tell my wife, ‘It looks like we’re going to lose this game.’ But by golly, we pull it off. Every time.”

He uses the word “we” a lot while discussing his kids’ work, and all of the Grudens will be counting on adding to the video collection when the NFL season starts in September. On most Sundays, there will be two games of particular interest: those involving Jon’s Oakland Raiders or Jay’s Washington Redskins.

“It was in our blood, mine and Jon’s. Both of us knew we were going to be in football, one way or another. But to get to be head coaches in the NFL was probably an unrealistic dream,” Jay said, leaning back on a couch at his team’s practice facility. “Somehow, we got here.”

Jon got there first, hired as an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers at age 26, then getting his first head coaching job with the Raiders at 34 in 1998. Jay didn’t enter the NFL until more than a decade later, as an assistant on Jon’s Tampa Bay staff at age 35; he became a head coach four years ago in Washington.

With Jon leaving “Monday Night Football” to return to the sideline after a decade away Authentic Oliver Bjorkstrand Jersey (http://www.officialbluejackets.com/authentic-adidas-oliver-bjorkstrand-jersey) , and Jay entering his fifth season, they will join the Harbaughs as the only sets of siblings to simultaneously hold jobs as NFL head coaches.

“They grew up in the same house, and they love each other, but they’re not very much the same,” Jim Gruden said about the two sons who followed him into the coaching business (a third — and oldest — brother is a radiologist in New York; Jon joked about being “the forgotten Gruden” as the supposedly least-loved middle child).

“They both had a dream to do this. I did it, and they wanted to do it. But I never knew they would take it to this level,” Jim continued.

Then, with a knowing chuckle, he added: “Personality-wise, they’re very different. One is a little more volatile. The other is more laid back.”

The explosive son, naturally, is Jon, who earned the nickname Chucky (a character in the “Child’s Play” horror film series) during his first go-round as a head coach. During 11 seasons with the Raiders (1998-01) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-08), he won a Super Bowl and went 95-81 in the regular season.

The more relaxed is Jay, 28-35-1 with one playoff appearance. His prior head coaching experience was a brief stint in something called the United Football League and a longer tenure in the better-known Arena League, where he led the Orlando Predators to two championships (Jim says he has the discs to prove it).

Now they are NFL competitors, even though the Redskins and Raiders aren’t slated to play each other until the 2021 regular season.

If the Grudens remain in their current jobs, the only chance to match wits beforehand would come in the Super Bowl. The Harbaughs managed to make that happen: John’s Baltimore Ravens beat younger brother Jim’s San Francisco 49ers 34-31 for the title in 2013.

“When you play each other, embrace it and enjoy it. And try to win,” said John Harbaugh Alex DeBrincat Jersey (http://www.officialblackhawksproshop.com/authentic-adidas-alex-debrincat-jersey) , who is still with the Ravens, while his brother now coaches at the University of Michigan.

As for their so-called Brother Bowl?

“The best part was winning. The worst part was Jim not being able to win,” he continued, before delivering the punch line: “But I would say the winning overshadowed that quite a bit.”

As one might suspect, Jon and Jay have entertained thoughts about a Gruden vs. Gruden game.

“That would be one of the coolest things in life, really. We’ve played against each other in the backyard since we were kids. A lot of those games ended because our dad spanked us both,” said Jon, 55, about 3˝ years older than Jay. “I beat him for years. I beat the hell out of him. … Then something happened where he grew. He got stronger. He got bigger. He got faster than me. I haven’t beaten him one-on-one in basketball, one-on-one in golf — and haven’t beaten him one-on-one in anything for a long time.

“It would be cool to go up against him as a coach.”

If that happened, would Mom and Dad pull for one child against the other?

“I would hope not. If they would, they better be rooting for my team,” Jay said, grinning widely. “I was a better kid. I was the easier son to get along with. I always did what they told me. Ate all my vegetables. Jon, on the other hand? They had to discipline him a lot more than me. That’s a fact.”

If their father’s time in college football at Notre Dame and Indiana or his work in the NFL swayed their career choices, the Grudens credit their mother, Kathy, with instilling other key qualities.

“They encouraged us to find our passion and they supported us through some tough times. My dad was a http://www.officialusafootballs.com/los-angeles-chargers