When new Chicago Bears running backs coach Skip Peete coached in Dallas, he always kept an eye on the Bears.
"What a tough team they were," Peete said during yesterday's meet and greet with the media. "I dreaded having to face them. Always a difficult game playing against Chicago."
Now Peete will be one of those responsible for making sure that Chicago's reputation for toughness stays intact going into the 2013 season. Peete comes to the Bears after six seasons in Dallas. He's one of 17 staff hires by new head coach Marc Trestman.
During this transitional period, Peete is spending most of his time meeting with the other coaches and helping Trestman formulate the new playbook.
"That's an enormous job," said Peete. "I've been in football for quite a while now, but when you are starting at Step A, as is the case here, you have a long way to go. We are putting in considerable hours getting everything exactly right. This is such an impressive group of coaches. I've worked with some of them before and some I am meeting for the first time. I think what we end up with will be both well thought out and effective."
Peete and Trestman were offensive positional coaches together in Oakland from 2001-2006. Trestman worked with Raiders quarterbacks while Peete worked with Oakland running backs. Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer was also in Oakland with Peete from 2001-2003. Peete is rejoining former Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, who now holds the same coaching position with the Bears.
"Paths cross quite often in the NFL," Peete said. "You can see from all of this that although most of us are brand new here in Chicago, we do know and understand how to work with each other. That's going to be to our advantage."
During his coaching career, Peete has worked with a number of high profile players, including running backs Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tyrone Wheatley and Charlie Garner. Peete also coached at the collegiate level, working at Pittsburgh (1988-1992), Michigan State (1993-1994), Rutgers (1995) and UCLA (1996-1997).
Peete admitted to having some extra help on his own personal sidelines. He's the brother of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and the son of a former Bears running backs coach Willie Peete, who was with a member of the Monsters of the Midway from 1995-1998. Despite their collective football knowledge, Peete said his family's unsolicited advice on his coaching career can be a double-edged sword.
"On the one hand, there is nobody who knows football like these two, and their insights are extremely valuable," he said. "But I'm getting a lot of calls right now offering suggestions. There's more than a little pressure on me to succeed."
Peete declined to offer his views on Matt Forte or any other player currently on the roster, preferring to save that discussion for a later date.
"I've barely had the chance to talk to these guys on the phone," he said. "Really, all of our time right now is going into designing the playbook. I've reached out to say hello to the players and that's about it. What I've heard through the coaching grapevine is that the Bears have extremely talented players. We are dealing with the kind of locker-room personnel that coaches dream about. To have them all here with us right now is a gift. I look forward to working with them when they return to Halas Hall."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.