Coaches Q&A, Part II: Chuck Knox, Jr.

Coverage coordinator Chuck Knox, Jr. talks about getting interceptions, the focus on stopping the run, the play of Corey Chavous and influential coaches.

Chuck Knox, Jr., is in his sixth season with Minnesota and enters his first season as the Vikings coverage coordinator. Knox spent the 2003-04 seasons as the Vikings secondary coach, the 2002 season as the defensive backfield coach, the 2001 season as the outside linebackers coach and the 2000 season as the defensive quality control coach. Despite being only 40 years old, Knox is already working with his fourth NFL team.

Knox was Green Bay's as defensive assistant/quality control coach in 1999, where he assisted both defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas and linebackers coach Johnny Holland. Prior to that, Knox spent four years with Philadelphia (1995-98) as a defensive assistant/quality control coach.

Knox began his coaching career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1993 as an offensive assistant/running backs coach, working for his father, Chuck Knox, Sr., who was head coach of the Rams from 1992-94.

Knox played running backs at Arizona from 1984-88. An all-state running back at Bellevue (Wash.) High as a senior, Knox moved to Washington after his father was named head coach of the Seahawks. He attended Orchard Park (N.Y.) High his first three years and earned all-state football honors.

Knox earned a degree in history from Arizona. He and his wife, Andrea, daughter, Hannah Marie, and son, Charles Robert, live in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Q: With Fred Smoot and Antoine Winfield, and Corey Chavous and Darren Sharper — all Pro Bowl caliber-type defensive backs — does it surprise you the Vikings have had a low interception rate through six games? What can you attribute that to?

It does and it doesn't. If you look at some of the games we have played, we've had a lot of drops or a lot of opportunities for interceptions. Coming out of the Tampa game Fred should've had three interceptions and Darren Sharper was close. With the one he had he had his hands on one or two more. I think we've had the opportunities to get some; we just haven't caught the ball. The reason our interceptions are low is — it's unfortunate — but we haven't been ahead in a lot of games. If you're ahead, like against New Orleans, they have to start throwing the ball and that's where you get more opportunities for interceptions. Your D line can just rush the passer and not worry about reading the run. You can put more pressure on the quarterback and he feels the pressure to try to exploit quickly.

Q: Considering the focus has been on stopping the run the last two games, has that hurt the effectiveness of your coverages?

I wouldn't say it hurts your effectiveness, but it's what you can play. Not every defensive coverage covers everything. Not every defensive front and every (blitzer) dog account for everything. You try to put your players in the best position they play. It's a give and take. If you want to play pass defense you're light against the run. What you try to do is pick and choose certain downs when the offense has tendencies to run the ball you run eight-man fronts.

Q: Corey Chavous seems to be playing a lot better this season. It's as if he added an extra step. Do you agree with that and, if so, why is that?

I've always thought the Corey was fast enough because he's an excellent corner. I think Corey's starting to grow and get more and more comfortable back there. This is the same defense with the same terminology that he had here the year before. When Corey came here he had three different coordinators in his first three years. This is the first time when he's had the same coordinator (Ted Cottrell) back to back years so he's not learning a whole new system and have the growing pains that comes along with it.

Q: How has the addition of Foge Fazio helped?

I think it's helped us. It's always good to have somebody who has been in the league and been around football as long as Foge has. He's been a college head coach. Foge has been a coordinator in this league for a number of years in different places. It's always good to have another set of eyes, another opinion on something. We can only benefit from it. I think it's an excellent opportunity.

Q: Your dad was a successful coach for a long time in the NFL. What technique or philosophy did you learn from him?

He instilled a strong work ethic with me. He taught me to work hard and make sure your players are very well prepared. Put your players in the best position to make plays. Try to be an even keel because in this league one minute you can be on top of the world and the next minute you feel like crap, at the bottom of the world.

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