Kippy Brown, coach-elect of the XFL Memphis Maniax visited Memphis on a break from his current team, the Green Bay Packers, where he is serving out the season as running-backs coach. The Memphis Flyer had a chance to sit down for a Q&A at a press-meeting at Don Pablos on Rivendale.
Flyer:How is the camp this week going to be different from an NFL Camp?Brown: I dont think its going to be different. It will be run almost exactly like an NFL camp. Our schedules have come from schedules we had in Miami and Green Bay and were going to get done what we need to get done. One difference is that we are in the evaluation stages. Usually when you go into an NFL camp, you have the bases of your team already in place and you only have rookies and a few free-agents to evaluate. Here, were evaluating everybody. Were starting from scratch. Thats the big difference.
We think we had a tremendous draft and we are very happy with it. Now its a matter of seeing how they fit with what we want to get done ... not only player wise -- but personality wise. Thats very important. This football team, I want it to be a positive influence on the Memphis community. Ive talked to the players about this, I want us to be a positive force in the community, thats important to me. How we are perceived in the community is important to me. If we are going to win this community over, we are going to have to do things right, both on and off the football field.
When you get in the situation when things go on off the football field, you have distractions and distractions hurt any football team and we just cant have that, so were evaluating how the guys fit athletically, but personality-wise also.
MF: What will you be looking for, specifically this week? Are you looking for conditioning, or worried about the condition the athletes are in?Brown: That will be evaluated. You cant wait for [the Las Vegas] camp to be in shape. For the most part I think well be in shape. I think we will be close to where we need to be. We have a heck of a quarterback crew to evaluate, in my opinion. [Marcus Crandell, Jim Druckenmiller, Beau Morgan, and Craig Whelihan will compete for two spots on the active roster.] Theres a lot of variety there. Theres some guys with mobility, some big strong-arm guys who can hang in the pocket and get the ball thrown. How productive are they? How accurate are they? Those things are being evaluated. How well do [the lineman] learn? Can they pick up on our system? Can they pass-rush? When you get in a one-on-one pass-rush situation, what kind of beat do they have? Can [the wide-receivers] make plays when they are given the opportunity? Are [the runningbacks] just runners or can they be receivers out of the back-field. Can they do things that Marshal Faulk does?
Flyer:I would guess that for any new team or new league, the offensive line would be the most difficult place to build spots. Is that true?Brown: I dont think thats necessarily the case. I think there are a lot of good linemen out there in all sizes. You think you have to be this huge guy to play on the offensive line, thats not necessarily the case. Look at what Denver does with their running game, they have small athletic guys who can get after your tail.
Flyer:How will you implement the things you picked up along the way in all your years of being an assistant coach?Brown: I have been very fortunate. Ive worked with some excellent head coaches and assistant coaches and you take a little bit from each guy youve been associated with, something good. I feel very comfortable with my position. I am just going to go out and create an atmosphere that is conducive for players to be successful.
Im going to limit distractions. Its hard to win at professional football and distractions hurt you so we need to limit those as much as we can. We need to give coaches the opportunity to teach as much as they can and we need to put players in the frame of mind to want to learn and get better. Thats my job as head coach, to make sure we have the right players and to make sure that I create an atmosphere to get better.
Flyer:As a coach from afar, maybe the first e-mail coach ever, youve been really dependent on your assistant coaches. Has that been paying off for you?Brown: Oh yeah. These are guys that I know well. [laughs] Ones my brother. Ive worked with Rick McGeorge [assistant. head coach/ offensive coordinator] for four years in Miami. He was my offensive line coach. Weve been through the wars together. He knows what I expect and I couldnt be more pleased in what he has done to prepare this team for the mini-camp. Some of the local guys I hired, Stanley Morgan [wide receivers coach] and Fred Barnett [tight ends coach] have been there every day busting their tails and theyre ready to go. I appreciate what Kim Helton [team administrator] has done with our personnel. Hes actually going to help with our quarterbacks during this camp, until I get here. Everybody has pitched in. Steve Ortmayer [VP of football operations] has done a heck of a job with personnel and got us players who we think are going to help us whis this XFL championship. Were ready to go. I have the utmost confidence in our coaching staff.
Flyer:Las Vegas is coming up, its a pre-season of sorts. Are you going in to get the job done? Are you going in to make a statement? Are you going into avoid injuries? Whats the mindset?Brown: Were going in to prepare for Birmingham. I want our players, our coaches, and our fans to know that the only game that matters right now is our first game in Birmingham. Weve got to win that thing. Though this camp is for evaluation, when we get to Las Vegas, well find out who really wants to play because well have our pads on and thats when its going to really start. The thing I am going to be focused on and getting the players and coaches focused on is our first ball-game because thats the only game that matters.
Flyer:How can you focus on Birmingham? They have 70 players trying-out like you do, you dont know if they are going to be on the team or not. What kind of scouting are you doing?Brown: Well, you know the coaching staff. And if you know the coaching staff, you have a little diary. Youve known what coaches have done and what their systems have been in the past and you go on that.
Flyer:This thing is from the being built from the ground up. Is this a coaching dream job or a coaching nightmare?Brown: This situation? This is a dream. Ive coached in college for a long time, Ive had my stint there. Ive had my stint in the NFL. You never know whats going to happen down the road. When this opportunity came about, I thought it was right for me, at this point in my career. This was the right thing for Kippy Brown to do. Im excited about it, my family is excited about it. I just cant wait to get back down here to get started.