Versatile background serves Bears' Toub well

LAKE FOREST _ New Bears special teams coach Dave Toub knows his area of expertise well enough to realize it's one of the most misunderstood aspects of the game. "There's so much to it," he said. "I know most people don't know what's going on because there's a lot more to it than I thought even before I got into it. "Most people think there's just the kicking aspect, but fail to take into account the blocking, tackling and strategy aspects."

Toub came to the Bears from Philadelphia, where he served as special teams assistant three years while also aiding in coaching the defensive line. He inherits one of the more consistently effective Bears weapons in terms of field goal kicker Paul Edinger and return units that include Pro Bowl kick returner Jerry Azumah, standout punt returner R.W. McQuarters, and potential contributors in returners Bobby Wade, Nate Vasher and Bernard Berrian.

In Philadelphia, Toub helped coach special teams units in 2002 which ranked in the top five for average drive starting point after kickoffs and in opponents average starting point.

The idea of a coaching career started for Toub during his affiliation with a former Illinois small college coach. While playing at University Texas-El Paso, Toub was tutored by offensive line coach Max Bowman.

"He had a lot of the qualities I liked in coaches and I thought I would either emulate him or be similar to him in a lot of ways," Toub said. "His demeanor, his tendencies, his consistency and energy were all great."

Bowman went on to start a football program at Greenville College in downstate Illinois just east of St. Louis, and established a winning program. He eventually served as a Buffalo Bills assistant.

With the Eagles, Toub assisted John Harbaugh, father of former Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh, and called that relationship a career-builder.

"His attention to detail and his knowledge of special teams made him so effective," Toub said. "It was easy to learn a lot in that situation."

At UTEP, Toub coached the offensive line in 1987-88. He coached the defensive line and also strength and conditioning for Missouri from 1989-2000. While at both places, he worked with current Eagles head coach Andy Reid. That past association eventually helped land him a spot in the NFL in 2001.

The time at Missouri brought Toub in contact with the player he called the best he'd ever coached prior to this year.

"Justin Smith at Missouri was a talent, but he was raw," Toub said. "He had unbelievable potential. He was running a 4.5-second (40-yard dash). And his motor, nobody was even close to him. He's an excellent player."

Toub acknowledges working with kickers may be the most difficult challenge facing a special teams coach -- chiefly because it's difficult to relate to most. It can't be any easier handling a kicker like Edinger, who has an unorthodox style.

"I haven't kicked a 20-yard field goal in my life," Toub said. "You watch them, you try to look for technique flaws. You try to get feedback.

" `Why did you miss this?' Then it becomes simpler if you open the communication lines." Toub finds special teams coaching particularly gratifying.

"You work with a lot of different people on the team, and that's something I enjoy," he said. "I think my background as a strength coach was a big part in forming my appreciation for special teams coaching. As strength coach, you worked with the whole team and I touched a lot of people then. In special teams, it's the same way."

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