Washington Redskins: Torrian Gray will make secondary better
After spending the past 11 seasons coaching in college, Torrian Gray was named the Washington Redskins new defensive backs coach in February.
Washington Redskins secondary coach Torrian Gray knows the NFL. After a standout collegiate career at Virginia Tech in the 90s, Gray was a second-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings back in 1997. Unfortunately, injuries derailed Gray’s NFL career after just three seasons. After his career ended, Gray immediately took up coaching.
He spent four years at Maine and Connecticut before the Chicago Bears brought him aboard for two seasons in 2004 and 2005. Gray may have stayed in the NFL longer but an opportunity to return to his alma mater in 2006 was too good to be true. Gray spent 10 seasons at Virginia Tech before coaching at Florida in 2016.
Then the Redskins came calling.
After two years of Perry Fewell, Redskins coach Jay Gruden wanted to get back to the fundamentals. Players struggled under Fewell the last two seasons. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland took a major step back in 2016 after a promising start to his career. Breeland, like many in the secondary, clashed with Fewell.
Gruden saw Gray as the perfect replacement for Fewell, according to Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, saying this:
“That’s no disrespect to the coaches we had, they were more of the big picture-type coaches and they’re good coaches. But Torrian is more of a hands-on, fundamental, technique guy, and I think that’s something we really needed to work on. At the end of the day, technique with the defensive backs is very, very important, and I think we can never overteach that. Torrian is one of the better teachers that I at least interviewed and talked to.”
Many of the players Gray coached in college, including current Redskin Kendall Fuller, rave about him. Not only does Gray teach technique and fundamentals, he develops relationships with his players. That’s something Fewell struggled to do.
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Virginia Tech earned a reputation of putting defensive backs into the NFL on an annual basis while Gray was coaching the secondary. And, outside of Fuller, the Hokies didn’t sign a lot of elite recruits in the secondary during Gray’s time there.
This offseason, Fuller got word that Gray may be interested in a return to the NFL. After hearing that, Fuller went to Gruden and made his pitch for Gray, per Jake Kring-Schreifels of Redskins.com.
“I said I thought he was the best defensive back coach in America,” Fuller said. “I just left it at that.”
Fuller and Kyshoen Jarrett’s positive words were enough for Gruden and the team to reach out to Gray. Once Gray interviewed, Gruden quickly realized he was exactly what this defense needed. The cornerback position doesn’t lack for talent with Josh Norman, Breeland, Fuller, Quinton Dunbar and third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Now, it’s up to Gray to get the most out of each of these players.
The Redskins seriously upgraded their talent this offseason. The defensive line and linebacker positions saw upgrades in talent. And D.J. Swearinger’s addition could finally help stabilize the safety position. Gray is crucial to Swearinger and Su’a Cravens’ development at safety.
Coaching is an important element in the NFL. Washington recognized this on the defensive line when it hired Jim Tomsula. While Tomsula’s hire was praised around the league, Gray’s addition could be just as beneficial.
There’s been plenty of good vibes surrounding the secondary this offseason, now the Redskins hope it translates into the season. If so, Washington’s defense will be much better in 2017.