The Washington Commanders have promoted assistant defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer to defensive backs coach after the departure of Chris Harris to the Tennessee Titans. Here are five things to know about the position coach.
1. He took an unconventional path to get into coaching.
Vieselmeyer was not quite sure which career path he wanted to take after wrapping up his college career. He studied pre-law and worked at a law office for about a month before realizing that was not what he wanted to do. His parents told him to focus on what he loved, and that was being involved in sports and teaching others.
It was clear to Vieselmeyer that he should transition to coaching. So, he started his career. He was hired by Orange Lutheran High School to be the team's defensive coordinator, and he spent eight seasons with the Lancers before getting his first head coaching job with Valor Christian High School, where he led the program for six seasons.
From there, Vieselmeyer moved on to the college level as the Houston Baptist University co-defensive coordinator. Two years later, he joined the NFL coaching ranks with Jack Del Rio and the Oakland Raiders, where he worked as the assistant linebackers and safeties coach.
Once Del Rio was relieved of his coaching duties with the Raiders, Vieselmeyer spent a year with the University of Kansas and as head coach of Santa Margarita Catholic High School before joining Washington's staff in 2020.
2. He had a successful run as a high school head coach.
It is a rare opportunity to start up a high school football program, but that is what Vieselmeyer did at Valor Christian High School with a few other coaches. What's more, Vieselmeyer went on to have a tremendously successful stint leading the Eagles.
At Valor Christian, he compiled a 55-12 record, leading the Eagles to four-straight state championships in 2009 (3A), 2010 (4A), 2011 (4A) and 2012 (5A). He was named the Denver Post Colorado Coach of the Year in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and was All Sport Jefferson County Coach of the Year in 2010.
Since Vieselmeyer started the program in 2007, Valor Christian has become a powerhouse in football, particularly in the 2010s, with eight state titles.
3. His first "interview" with Jack Del Rio was an unexpected one.
Vieselmeyer's first experience with Del Rio came when he moved to Denver, when Del Rio was the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator. That led to him spending a lot of time with the Broncos' defensive staff and an unexpected first interview.
"I didn't know it was happening at the time," Vieselmeyer said back in 2020.
It is understandable that Vieselmeyer did not expect the impromptu interview. He and Del Rio were having a conversation that led to his getting in front of a whiteboard to start drawing up plays. That was when Vieselmeyer noticed that the entire Broncos defensive staff was watching him.
"I'm quite nervous," Vieselmeyer recalled. "I'm looking over my shoulder the whole time, so that was fun."
Whatever Vieselmeyer did was enough to impress Del Rio, because he joined the Raiders as part of their defensive staff once Del Rio became the head coach. He was able to help Malcolm Smith record 122 tackles in 2015 and Khalil Mack earn a Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors for getting 11 sacks in 2016.
4. His coaching style revolves around passion for helping his players.
Vieselmeyer has coached at every level throughout his career, but his style has stayed the same. He believes his first goal is always to serve the players.
In an introductory interview when he first joined the Commanders' staff, Vieselmeyer said it was crucial for coaches to be passionate about their jobs and pass that on to their players. He added that coaches need to be good teachers and put their players in the right position to succeed.
Based on how the Commanders have performed over the last three seasons, Vieselmeyer has done a good job of that. Washington has two top five finishes in passing yards allowed under the tutelage of Vieselmeyer and the rest of the secondary coaches. The team held opponents to an average of 191.3 yards through the air in 2022 and allowed fewer than 200 yards in 11 games.