John Fox, who was an NFL head coach for 16 years with three different teams, always had one predominant question about anyone he was considering for his staff:
What is their “why?”
“Why does my coordinator want to become a head coach?” Fox said. “Why does my DB coach want to be a coordinator? If their ‘why’ is to get more money, well, then that may not be the best characteristic that you’re looking for.”
Fox, who took both the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl, was speaking during last week’s 33rd Team Call. During the call, he reminded 33rd Team founder Mike Tannenbaum of a conversation they had two years ago while on the set at ESPN.
Tannenbaum had asked Fox if he could identify any young, up-and-coming head coaching candidates. Fox was quick to point out a coach that he hired from Div. III John Carroll University to be the Chicago Bears linebackers coach in 2017: Brandon Staley.
Talk about fast trajectory. After two seasons in Chicago and one in Denver, Staley was the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2020 and then was hired as the new Chargers head coach going into 2021.
“He just had the right ‘why,’” said Fox. ”He was a great teacher, very smart, very dedicated. Made hard stuff simple. To me, that’s a teacher.”
Fox praised Staley as the kind of coach that has an instant connection with his players, something he always looked for when hiring his staff.
“They just have the ability to motivate and inspire young people on a daily basis,” he said. “Something I tried to do as an assistant, I tried to do as a coordinator, I tried to do as a head coach.”
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