After coaching in college for the past decade, Torrian Gray is now back in the NFL. But the Redskins' new secondary coach is still treating his group of defensive backs like college kids in at least one aspect.
You won't catch DeAngelo Hall rolling his eyes at the angle Gray is approaching his new gig, though. In fact, he fully supports how the assistant is going about things.
"Just seeing the players he’s helped bring up and produce and recruit, you know those guys have a good football IQ," Hall said this week during Washington's minicamp. "It’s something I feel we’ve kind of lagged a little bit in years past. We didn’t get a lot of that technique work. A lot of coaches, when they get into the league, tend to let guys kind of do it their way. They think, 'They’re professionals, let them do it their way.'
"He came in with kind of a college mentality," the veteran added. "Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good. For us, it was great."
Hall is the second DB this offseason to lament the way previous coaches instructed them. The first was Will Blackmon, who told the Washington Post in late May that he doesn't "count last year" as the year he switched to safety and that this season he's "actually learning football."
Count Jay Gruden among those who are welcoming Gray's methods, too. The Redskins' head coach backed up Hall's assertion that Gray differs from his predecessors and reiterated how necessary it is for the team's corners and safeties to focus on what's apparently been overlooked stuff.
"He's a fundamentally sound guy," Gruden said at a minicamp presser. "No disrespect to the coaches we had, they were more of the big-picture-type coaches and they're good coaches, but Torrian is more of a hands-on, fundamental technique guy and I think that's something we really needed to work on."
Really? How about really? Since 2010, the Redskins have allowed opposing quarterbacks to put up the second-highest passer rating in the NFL. Only the Saints — a unit that every fantasy player in America hopes their starters will be lucky enough to face — have been worse in that span, according to CSN's Rich Tandler.
That stat is just one example why a change in the manner the secondary is being managed, led by figures like Gray and new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, is being embraced.
Come to think of it, even some of Gray's answers in interviews are basic. The man knows how to stay on brand.
"All I want to do is give those guys information to have the best success that they can have," Gray responded matter-of-factly when asked how he'll aim to turn around the back end of the Redskins' maligned defense. "All I know is I like the talent that we got and the best thing I know how to do is just coach the guys and try to put those guys in position to have success."
Hall, who's busy rehabbing from a torn ACL, has remained a fixture on the sidelines and served as a primary witness to his immediate boss's early days on the job. So far, so good, he says.
"You see our guys competing every single play and Torian’s always reminding them, screaming at them and yelling at them, just trying to work on the basics," Hall observed. "I’m definitely, thoroughly impressed with him."
He's not just using his voice to reinforce his lessons, either. Gray admitted last week he held up a sign during a session in Ashburn that read, "Greatness is in the details," just in case it wasn't clear enough what he's all about. It remains to be seen whether his messages truly sink in, of course, but if they do, Gray's sure that they'll lead to better production.
Really sure, actually.
"If we're detailed," he said, "we don't have any other choice but to be great."