Q&A: With LBs Coach Knox

Linebackers coach Chuck Knox, Jr. talks about the progress of his pupils and how he and Richard Solomon work together on getting the linebackers ready for action.

Chuck Knox, Jr., who joined the Vikings coaching staff last year as a defensive assistant, was moved to outside linebackers coach for 2001. Minnesota is his fourth NFL team since he started coaching in the pros in 1993. His last few stints have been following defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas. He has been with the Los Angeles Rams (1993-94) as an offensive assistant/running backs coach, the Philadelphia Eagles (1995-98) as a defensive assistant/quality control and the Green Bay Packers (1999) in the same role.

Before coaching the outside linebackers, his duties with the Vikings last year were mainly in analyzing game film and preparing a game plan for the defense.

His playing days included being a running back for the University of Arizona and an all-state rusher at Bellevue (Wash.) High School.


Q: How happy are you with the performance of Lemanski Hall, who you coach?

A: I'm really pleased with the way he has been playing. He has had a good year. He has great attention to detail, uses his hands very well, is a physical kind of a guy and has great production so far. He's a very instinctive player.

Q: How about the play of the defense?

A: Obviously, we need to make more plays as a defense as a whole. We have to make the affordable play when we have a chance to get out of certain situations.

Q: Having two coaches at the linebacker position, what type of things do you work on with co-coach Richard Solomon to make the group come together as a unit?

A: What we do is we meet together a lot. We do all our drills together because the middle linebacker (one of the players Solomon coaches) makes a lot of the calls. We do that because we want to make sure they are all on the same page and know where each other is going to be. Then we have to coordinate for practice because at the Sam (strongside) linebacker position you have one or two guys, and you can't do a lot of drills with one or two guys. So you need the five or six other linebackers. So we work in conjunction a lot together. So far, it has been very good.

Q: How much crossover is there with you working with the other linebackers?

A: There is some, but we work in such close proximity to each other. Usually if they have a question they can just ask Richard. There are very few times where Solly and I aren't together. We stand on the same side of the field. The only time that is ever different is game day because I'm usually upstairs in the booth and he's usually down on the field. Either I'll tell him some adjustments that the Sam (strong side) needs to do or so forth and so on. Then he'll tell Lemanski or he'll tell his players. Or I'll just have Lemanski go to the phone.

Q: Are you on a headset with Solomon?

A: All of our defensive coaches are on headsets.

Q: When you are in the press box on game day are you looking at the linebackers as a whole to tell what you see?

A: It's a little bit of both. I'm trying to make sure that the guy that I coach is doing the right thing. And then try to find out if something happens, sometimes your view from upstairs is easier to see than it is from down below. And just like the defensive coordinator, if he sees something, he relays that information. If I see something, I can relay it to Solly.

Q: Talk about a guy like Hall, who is getting his first real chance to start this season. Have you seen a lot of progress from him? Was he pretty much set to go when he stepped in because he is a veteran?

A: I always thought he had the ability to play. It just depends on what team you are on, who is ahead of you and so forth. He has made a name for himself in the league as a special teams player. This is really his first opportunity (to start). He played a little bit in Chicago as a linebacker, but this is really his chance to start and to play a lot. He has done a great job. He has got a good work ethic, he's a smart player and he does a good job at the point of attack. He does everything we ask him to do. He has made some plays defensively. The last couple of weeks he has gotten two forced fumbles and both of them became scores. The offense scored on one and then we scored on the other. He's done some good things and been very productive. I've always felt that he had the ability to play, but it's just a case of a guy going out there and doing it. My hat has got to go off to him for that because he came in and he has done an excellent job.

Q: What areas are you working with him the most and where would you like to see him improve the most in the offseason?

A: I would just look for more consistency. He needs to come up with more big plays. He's a pretty decent tackler. He makes a lot of tackles, makes a lot of tackles for a loss. But I would like to see more tipped balls, things like that. Sometimes they come and sometimes they don't. A guy can go all year without ever seeing the ball. But right now I don't worry about what to do in the offseason. I worry about that in the offseason because I have a lot of time before he comes back for training camp to do that. VU

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