He’s the youngest coach in the NFL, but he doesn’t talk like it and he doesn’t act like it, and the Eagles are hoping he doesn’t coach like it.
Nick Rallis is one of the more interesting stories on Nick Sirianni’s new coaching staff, a position coach who’s the same age as his best player, who was still playing college football the year Doug Pederson became the Eagles’ head coach, who was born three years before Brian Dawkins’ rookie year.
Rallis replaces Pederson’s linebackers coach, Ken Flajole, who was in his 15th year as a football coach when Rallis was born.
“No shot at Flaje, but [Rallis] is a little more youthful,” Alex Singleton said with a laugh. “But I will say, obviously Flaje had 40-plus years of coaching experience and Rallis obviously doesn’t have all that, but he puts in that time. All the guys talk about the guy doesn’t leave [the NovaCare Complex] and wonder if he has a wife.
“He’s the guy who’s in here 24/7 and trying to catch up on [his lack of experience], and he’s an exciting guy to play for. He never second guesses himself in a meeting, on the field the drills he participates in fully. We graduated the same year, he can still play a little ball, so he moves around with us. It makes it fun. His knowledge is second to none of any coach I’ve ever had.”
Rallis played college football at Minnesota, then served as a quality control coach at Wake Forest before joining Mike Zimmer’s Vikings staff in 2018 as a defensive quality control coach and assistant linebackers coach. Three years later, he’s a full-time position coach with the Eagles.
“I guess I don’t think about it too much as far as where do I lack in my lack of experience,” Rallis said. “I just focus on accumulating as much knowledge as possible, whether that’s utilizing Jonathan Gannon or Dennard Wilson, Tracy Rocker, the offensive coaches. Continuous learning has been critical for me, and utilizing my time in the offseason, where normally you might have some time off but continuing to study and try to soak in as much as possible. Even going back to when I was in Minnesota, just soaking in as much as I could from Coach Zimmer and everybody else.
“[That’s] pivotal to your growth as a coach, whatever age or experience you’re at. That’s something I hope to continue as I become an old coach. To continue to enhance my knowledge no matter what my age is.”
Rallis was asked whether his age helps him relate better to players who are all about the same age.
His answer was revealing and impressive.
“If there is an aspect of age that helps me connect, I don’t know about it because I think connection is truly about getting to know somebody and then showing them that you care and that you really want to make them better and that you’re able to make them better,” he said. “So whether I was 27 years old or I was 57 years old, [what matters] is if I can get to know these guys, get to know their backgrounds, connect. I don’t know if age plays a role, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but the big thing is showing that I’m truly vested in them hitting their ceilings.”
Although Rallis doesn’t see his age as a handicap, he understands that he has a lot to learn and isn’t too proud to get his players’ thoughts and opinions as he navigates his first season as a position coach.
“I’m not always going to have all the answers and, to be honest, I’ve got my room and I say, ‘Hey guys, you know I don’t have all the answers so I’m open to hear communication back from you guys so we put the best product on the field.’
“So it’s not just, 'What do I know, you guys stay in your lane and go do exactly what I say.' No, I love feedback from these guys. My room is extremely intelligent on its own, but the players have a different perspective on the field and so the more feedback I can get from them, it really enhances my knowledge as well and together we can put together the best product of them going out there and maximizing themselves.”
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