Richard will have to prove he can handle the schemes and make adjustments on the fly. But this job has as much to do with relationships as Xs and Os. Richard said what he learned from previous coordinator Dan Quinn was to let everyone know how much they matter.
Kris Richard readily acknowledges that he loves his “little adages.” And you can start to get the measure of the Seahawks’ new defensive coordinator through his quaint sayings.
In the course of his first official press gathering since he was promoted from secondary coach to replace Dan Quinn as the man in charge of Seattle’s defense, Richard noted Tuesday that “you catch more flies with honey.”
That’s Richard’s way of saying that he’s going to keep it positive and upbeat — though he hastened to add that if some tough love is called for, “I’ll absolutely do that.” But in the true Pete Carroll tradition, it’s all about making his guys feel good about themselves so they’ll perform to maximum ability.
“You don’t have to rip a guy in order to get your point across to him,’’ Richard said after the Seahawks’ first OTA of the new year. “You could come in and F-bomb a guy and dog-cuss him. These guys are going to shut you off. But if you do it with love and do it with care, these guys are going to listen.’’
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In describing his own preparation for his new position — which included four years as a cornerback in the NFL and seven coaching defensive backs under Carroll, first at USC, then Seattle — Richard says, “You’re always taking notes, always learning, because as soon as you’re stagnant, you’re done.’’
He preaches to his players what he calls “the brotherhood effect,’’ which is defined as “each one, teach one.” That means passing on your knowledge, because “we’re only as strong as our weakest link. But how about no weak links?”
When asked about how his defensive style will differ from that of Quinn, the perpetually upbeat Richard offered his most telling maxim. He quickly replied, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
And therein lies both the gift and burden presented to Richard after Quinn became the second Seahawks coordinator in three years to parlay Seattle’s success into a head-coaching job. Quinn replaced Gus Bradley when he was hired by Jacksonville in 2013, and himself was selected after the Super bowl to guide Atlanta.
Under their tutelage, the Seahawks have had the best defense in the NFL, statistically, over the past three years and are regarded as one of the better units in NFL history. That means that Richard inherits a unit teeming with quality players — and inherits a certain built-in pressure to uphold the fierce defense that has become a Seahawks hallmark and fueled two Super Bowl runs.
“We all do, but it’s no pressure,’’ he said. “All we have to do is be ourselves. That’s the truth about it. We come out, and our whole focus is to be our absolute best that day, that moment. We’ll be fine.”
Indeed, Richard said Carroll’s first and main piece of advice upon promoting Richard closely after the Super Bowl was simply: “Be yourself.”
And Carroll said he likes what he’s seen from both Richard and the new assistant head coach/defense, Rocky Seto. Carroll noted that moving from position coach to coordinator is more daunting than it might appear.
“It’s entirely different when you step in front of the whole group,’’ Carroll said. “Now it’s your turn to set the tempo and critique for the whole group of guys. … I’ve been in a bunch of Kris’ meetings. He’s hit it with his feet running, and we’re off to a great start.’’
Richard will have to prove he can handle the schemes and make adjustments on the fly. But this job has as much to do with relationships as X’s and O’s. Richard said what he learned from Quinn was to let everyone know how much they matter.
“That was one awesome thing about him,’’ Richard said. “It’s how you treat people.”
Richard was instrumental in developing the Legion of Boom — both the “legion” part and the “boom” part. Strong safety Kam Chancellor believes the success Richard had with Seattle’s secondary will be translated to the defense at large.
“He’s a great guy of character, and he can teach you how to be a man,’’ Chancellor said. “But he also teaches you the little things you need to know on the football field.
“Being that he taught the secondary in our room the things we know, and how sharp he got our minds, I think by him being over the top of the whole defense, it’s going to sharpen the whole defense even more.”
And a sharp defense cuts deepest. Richard didn’t actually say that. But give him time.