Running backs coach Randy Jordan sat down with Larry Michael on "Redskins Nation" to talk about how his experience playing helps him be a better coach.
When Randy Jordan joined the Redskins coaching staff two years ago, he brought with him 10 years of NFL playing experience and 12 years of collegiate and professional coaching knowledge.
That transition is one that players often make to stay close to the game they love, Jordan told "Redskins Nation" host Larry Michael this week, and changing roles from coach to player was a natural progression for his football career.
"I went from basically wanting to know the 'Why' — there was so many times when players they get in their career, I was able to play nine years involved with the NFL, 10 (years), but then all of a sudden I wanted to know why are we running this play", Jordan said. "How does it affect cover-two, what's the coverage for this, what's the check? I went from memorizing plays to trying to figure out how I can attack this defense. What kind of coverage is this backer playing? Why are we running the wide look against this particular look? Why are we going to the shade? It's so many different things and so once that triggered in my mind then I said this is something I wanted to do."
His responsibilities on the field have certainly changed since the beginning of his football career. The highs and lows that he experienced as a player are the foundation that he built his coaching philosophy upon, allowing him to really understand what his players see on the field.
"Yeah, I think the biggest thing is I try to draw from my playing experience," he said. "You know I'm always trying to figure out what they're thinking, how they feel about plays, I'm always questioning them, 'Hey Matt [Jones], what do you think about this wide-zone? You like this play out of the gun or do you like it from under center?' You know the biggest thing for me is being on the same page with them, I always tell them, I say, 'when we go to work, we go to work,' and you have to communicate with me in terms of, 'hey coach, I've got a twinge here, let's get it checked out.' So I'm always trying to figure out what they're thinking and trying to put them in the best situation to be successful."
Jordan has indeed put his players in situations in which they can be successful, often taking mistakes on the field and turning them into teaching opportunities.
Rookie running back Matt Jones was able to learn many of these lessons in his first NFL season. Jordan told Michael that he preached professionalism to Jones during his transition from the University of Florida to the Redskins, and he turned it into recording 144 carries for 490 yards and three rushing touchdowns, as well as 19 receptions for 304 yards and one receiving touchdown.
"We always talk about being a pro; being a pro is pro and the one thing he realized real early is that different from college is that this is a marathon, not a sprint," Jordan said. "So each and every day you have to come, be willing to learn, and he did that. One thing he also realized was that as quickly as people pat you on the back, as quickly as they can say, 'hey, what are you doing?' So you have to be the same after a win, you have to be the same after the loss, you have to continue to have the effort to come into work every day and the willingness to learn."
Chris Thompson is another player that Jordan has worked with since joining the Redskins. In Thompson's three-plus-year career, injuries have been an issue, and are something that Jordan has helped change in the running back's mindset.
Thompson responded as both a runner (35 carries, 216 yards) and a pass catcher (35 receptions, 240 yards, two touchdowns).
"Well I tell you, CT is what we call him, and one of the main things I really stressed on him is just being his availability and reliability. I said, 'That's the only thing people question about you.' And I remember it was I believe against the Giants when he hurt and fell on his back and I just tell you this, he was a trooper," Jordan said. "He finished the game and there was no reason why he should have finished the game, he played through the pain and we always talk about differentiation between injury and pain. Injury, I always tell them, injury is, I don't want you going out on the football field if you can't protect yourself and you can't protect your teammates. Now, when you have pain, everybody's going to have pain, you talk about 16 games, you talk about preseason, you talk about playoffs, you've got to be able to say, 'OK, this is the difference, I'm going to be a little bit nicked up, but I'm going to play.' Chris, he's been a big asset for us."
In preparation for the 2016 NFL season, Jordan has been keeping busy, assessing potential additions for the Redskins as he looks forward to his third season in Washington.
"Well the biggest thing is just coming back from the Combine, phenomenal athletes there, then the opportunity to evaluate this upcoming class," Jordan said. "Now we're going through, looking at tape of the free agents and then we're going to get ready for those guys to come back. We're going through our cut ups and trying to make sure that we're on the same page, what we want to add, what we want to delete in terms of our run game, we'll do the run game and the pass game, so we've got a lot of stuff on our agenda."