I got the chance to sit down with Tennessee Titans assistant head coach Dave McGinnis after Friday's practice.
McGinnis has been on Jeff Fisher's staff since 2004.
Before that, he was the coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2000-2003 compiling a record of 17-40.
McGinnis was also a part of an embarrassing PR blunder by the Chicago Bears in 1999. He interviewed for the head coaching job and the Bears arranged a news conference to announce him as their new coach. The one problem: McGinnis was unaware of it and had not signed a contract. Needless to say, he did not end up in Chicago.
TitanInsider: How did you make sure Gerald McRath would be ready to play right away for the fifth game of the season in Dallas?
Dave McGinnis: We knew he was going to be out four weeks. So, we gave him a lot of reps during training camp and made sure he wouldn't come back in dead cold. The progression he had made at the end of last season, all of his offseason work and all of his training camp work, I wasn't concerned about him going back in. The main thing you have to worry about for a linebacker is your eyes; what you're seeing, what you're keying, and how fast you can flash off what you see. For that first game back, he did a nice job.
TitanInsider: How do you handle the news that one of your guys (Jamie Winborn) has been let go the day before a game?
Dave McGinnis: Well, you just make provisions, you make plans. You don't worry about what's happened, you get a solution to what just happened. I've been in this a league for a long time, you can't worry about what happened. You make provisions and get ready to remedy what happened, and that's what we did.
TitanInsider: When you lose a veteran and leader in your group like Keith Bulluck, what does Will Witherspoon bring to the table to fill that void?
Dave McGinnis: That's why we went after him so hard in free agaency. I've known Will (Witherspoon) for a long time. I go back to when he was playing at the Senior Bowl and I was the head coach of the South team. When John Fox drafted him at Carolina, he called me about him. He was one of the most highly sought out free agent linebackers after his first four years at Carolina. As soon as he became available last offseason, we jumped on it quick. He fit in perfectly for the void we had at that time - as far as the leadership aspect, as far as a veteran standpoint, plus he had played in a 4-3 defense his entire career. Will fit every criteria we were losing and fit right in, right away. One of the first things a player has to do immediately is to get the respect of his teammates, and he did that the minute he walked in that locker room. That's why it's worked out really good so far.
TitanInsider: Do you think the rest of the league knows about Stephen Tulloch, and is he underrated?
Dave McGinnis: It doesn't matter, we don't care. Whatever everybody else thinks makes zero difference. Close your eyes and tell me what you see, that's how much difference it makes what everyone else thinks. All I know is, he's a football player.
TitanInsider: How close attention do you pay to David Thornton's progress?
Dave McGinnis: I'm not directly involved in what he's doing, but our trainers are. D T is still in our meetings and I know where he is.
TitanInsider: What other linebackers around the league catch your eye?
Dave McGinnis: Right now, Patrick Willis is the complete package in this league. I loved him coming out of school; he's done nothing but just get better since he came into the league. I like the group playing in Indy (Gary Brackett, Clint Session and Philip Wheeler); they're really good. I like Jon Beason in Carolina. I study linebackers a lot, especially when we're watching an upcoming opponent, and so do our guys. Patrick Willis stands out right now as a guy who has it all: size, strength, speed, smarts, the whole package.
TitanInsider: While you've been here awhile and you're happy, do you have any unrest still today how the whole deal in Arizona ended?
Dave McGinnis: God's honest truth, I had several opportunities at other jobs before I came here. I was offered three coordinator jobs before I came here, but I wanted to come here and work for Jeff Fisher. Every year that I've been here, I've had job offers to leave and go run a defense somewhere else. I like it here, I like what I'm doing here. I've run the elevator in this league, from assistant coach to assistant head coach. I was the Chicago Bears coach for six hours but didn't know about it for three of the hours. I've ran the gamut in this league. I have never been a guy that looks past the job I'm at, but just want to do the best job here for Jeff (Fisher) and these players. That's really why I'm still doing this. I would love to be a head coach again. I loved being a head coach out there (Arizona), even though it was under tough circumstances but I'm very proud of what I did out there. I helped them get that new stadium that allowed that franchise to grow and do what they did. I'd love to be a head coach again, but I'm not looking anywhere else but here. If I wanted to leave here I could, because I've had numerous opportunities since I've been here. I really, really like it here. This is a good place to be. I love working for Jeff and I love living in Nashvegas.