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As players and coaches take their final breaks before training camp, The Redskins Blog will take a look back at the new faces from this offseason and what we've learned about them, football and otherwise, so far.
Today, we'll focus on defensive line coach Robb Akey.
1. His job interview involved knocking over chairs and tables:This story quickly became a myth when head coach Jay Gruden addressed media at the NFL Combine in February. He described meeting with Akey, who got a little animated in his interview for defensive line coach.
"Robb Akey — he's got some energy, man," Gruden said. "He's an energetic, passionate guy. When we interviewed him, he knocked over garbage cans and chairs and tables, he was fired up…He was demonstrating some drills in the room, knocking things over. We were ducking and dodging flying objects. It was pretty impressive."
2. He's coached a lot of places in college. Naturally, he knew Joe Barry:Akey played multiple positions at Weber State, where he later got his first job coaching the defensive line. He moved on to Northern Arizona, Washington State and was named head coach of Idaho before moving onto the NFL.
"About halfway through my college career, I knew being a coach is what I wanted to do," Akey said. "As soon as I got done playing, I worked as a graduate assistant. Timing is everything – being in the right place at the right time. I spent one year as their graduate assistant. And when Coach Price left and went to Washington State, when Dave Arslanian made me the defensive line coach. So, at the ripe old age of 21 years-old, I was coaching the defensive line at my alma mater, and I coached there for about seven or eight years. I went from there to Northern Arizona University. I coached the linebackers there and was a defensive coordinator. I was there for four years. In fact, Joe Barry and I got to work together while we were there."
3. He doesn't think it's a huge adjustment to the NFL:After spending last season as an assistant defensive line coach with the Vikings, Akey didn't consider the transition into the NFL to be too difficult.
"That was a big thing I wondered coming into pro ball. How different was it going to be?" Akey said. "Generally I was not the real quiet guy, I don't know if you're starting to sense that here. I move around quite a bit. The bottom line is that it's a game. I look at it this way: If there's something I can give the guys who I get the opportunity to work with, that can help their career, that can help them be a better player, we all win. That's the way I've always approached it. We're doing this thing together. When you talk about playing on the defensive side of the ball, you better do it with some enthusiasm. There better be some passion about the way you go about doing things. So, I don't think it needs to change."
4. Akey has a strong sense of the entire defense, not just the line:Coaches typically specialize on one position or group of positions. Akey, a former leader of entire defenses, knows how everyone operates together. That's extremely helpful for the line.
"Most D-Line coaches don't know what safeties and linebackers do. He knows it all. He breaks down what the call is," Paea said. "For us, when you're starting to understand what linebackers and safeties are doing in certain blitzes, it will help you."
"A lot of times as a D-lineman we get a lot of signal calls and start to tell us where we're going," Baker said. "But it always helps to know on certain blitzes where guys are going to be so you know what kind of moves you can use and what moves you can't use. The more knowledge you have the better off you'll be, so he's a very knowledgeable coach."
- Hatcher likes Akey's coaching style: **Any big defensive lineman likes when a coach lets him maximize his skillset and allows them to be comfortable. Akey has allowed them that opportunity.
"He lets us be us," Hatcher said. "He understands how to coach men. We've got different personalities in our room and we're all different…He goes out there and understands that the veteran guys understand football. We just pull the young guys along. He doesn't try to get in the way of [anything]. I'm excited. I can get back to being myself and the other guys around me. I'm excited to see how far this D-line can take this team."
6. He's loud and boisterous on the practice field:You'll likely hear Akey yell the word "Bubba" to his linemen, one of his many unusual phrases and names he chirps during practice. There might be a good yelling competition to be had between Akey, Barry and Bill Callahan.
"You've got to be you," Akey said. "I guess even when I was a little guy I probably got accused of being a loud little guy. I think you look at our coaching staff, really the whole coaching staff, we're passionate about what we do, and about getting the opportunity to work with the men that we work with and get them headed in that direction and I think when you're passionate about something I think that it shows."
7. He knows the importance of playing hard every day:As training camp approaches, Akey is well aware of the importance each day of practice means to so many players trying to earn a roster spot. He analyzes everything – body language, film, positivity, skill -- to make sure he gets the best out of his players.
"The last impression is a lasting impression," Akey said. "Everybody is fighting for where they're going to be in regards to the depth chart, playing time, making the team, not making the team. So every opportunity of when they get on the field, it needs to show. To me it's critical and important the way they approach everything they do, not just the stuff on the field but the way they handle the meetings and all those things, that they attack it each day and give themselves the best opportunity so when that hand finally goes down in the dirt and that football finally gets snapped that they're going where they need to go and they're going to be proud of what they see on film."