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Brian Baker's Journey Molds Coaching Philosophies


Brian Baker's coaching career began just a few miles north of FedExField at the University of Maryland, but his return to the Washington, D.C., area didn't happen without several different moves across the country.

Each move, the first-year Washington Redskins outside linebackers coach said, has given him new perspectives on coaching and the game of football.  

In 1984, knowing that becoming an NFL player wasn't a realistic option after a four-year playing career at Maryland, Baker was hired by his alma mater as a student coach before becoming a graduate assistant coach.

He said he was "very blessed" for the opportunity right out of college.

"The spring right after that fall, [Maryland head coach] Bobby Ross asked me to help out and I did," Baker said. "After that year, he asked me to stay on as a student coach and I did, and the next thing I know he said, 'Hey, if you stay on and coach, I'll pay for grad school.' I wasn't in any big rush to get out into the world and I like campus, so I said sure. From that point on, things just kept working out."

Baker said he "loved coaching" and "loved being in that part" of the game.

"And obviously (Ross) saw something in me and he asked me to continue to do it that next fall," Baker recalled. "And I did."

In 1986, he joined Army's coaching staff as fullbacks coach. From 1987-1995, Baker played some sort of role on the coaching staff at Georgia Tech before starting his NFL coaching career with the San Diego Chargers.

Since his initial stop in San Diego, Baker also has coached for the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and most recently, the Cleveland Browns.

Along the way, Baker has taken principles and lessons from each stop to mold his own coaching style.

"3-4, 4-3, 2-gap, no 2-gap -- I've been in the mother lode of defensive philosophies, and what it's done is given me a chance to establish myself and look at what elements of those guys can I learn and incorporate into my own package," he said. "That's been a big benefit."

Baker said it's been an "unbelievable blessing" to lean on the various coaching influences he's had over the years.

"Philosophically, I've been getting different approaches just in terms of attacking offenses from different guys," he said. "So from a standpoint of learning the game, from the very first time with Larry Peccatiello, who's an ex-Redskin, and Dave Adolph, guys who have been really successful coordinators. Those are the guys I started under. And obviously Jim Haslett's been one of the most talented guys I've been with. "

Throughout the work week and even on game days, Baker can be seen working closely with his players on their fundamentals.

His goal as their coach is simple: to make them better each day.

"It's a repetition sport," Baker said. "I want to help the guys get better. One of the things through maturity that I had to learn was that it's not about me, it's about them. I think now, what I try do is impart on them that everything I do, everything I think about from a coaching standpoint, is to make those guys better.

"I want to isolate things that are going to help them get better and have them do it repeatedly and then be insistent that they do it correct, because when you do it, you either do it the right way or the wrong  way, and you want to have positive repetition."




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