Up next in the series of Bears head coaching candidates is Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. Previous reviews include:
Who is Dave Toub?
Dave Toub (59 years old) was born in Ossining, NY. After high school, he attended Springfield College in Springfield, MA, and played offensive line for the football team. He attended Springfield because it had the best physical education program in the country and Toub planned to coach High School football after college.
After his first two years at Springfield, Toub was offered the opportunity to transfer to Texas-El Paso, a D1 football program. At UTEP, Toub was a two-time All-WAC selection, two-time Academic All-WAC selection, and two-time captain. In 1985, Toub was drafted in the ninth round by the Philadelphia Eagles. He went on to spend two years in the NFL between the Eagles and Rams before returning to UTEP as a graduate assistant.
Dave Toub’s Background
Early Coaching Career
After spending one season as a graduate assistant, Toub became the strength and conditioning coach at UTEP in 1987. He stayed in that role at UTEP for two important seasons. Important, because he was working closely with UTEP’s offensive line coach, Andy Reid. In 1989, Toub followed the staff to Missouri. He retained the strength and conditioning job title for the next nine years.
In 1998, Toub became the defensive line coach for Missouri. The role changes only occurred because the previous DL coach suddenly passed away from a heart attack. Toub was entrenched in that DL coach role for the next two seasons until the entire staff was fired in 2000.
“That changed my whole career. I was getting out of the weight room and out to the football field. It changed everything for me.”– Dave Toub
After being fired at Missouri, Toub was considering taking a strength and conditioning job at Ohio University. Before he could accept the job, he received a call from Reid, who told him not to do so. Reid became the Eagles head coach in 1999 and had a role in mind for Toub, special teams assistant. For that year, Toub learned from ST coordinator John Harbaugh and DL coach Tommy Brasher. Toub stayed on the Eagles staff in that capacity through 2003.
From 2004-2012, Toub served as ST coordinator for the Bears under Lovie Smith. Toub was named Special Teams Coach of the Year in 2006, as his units consistently ranked near the top of the league. When Lovie Smith and the entire staff departed in 2012, Toub found his footing with an old friend. Andy Reid was entering his first year in Kansas City and brought Toub with him as ST coordinator.
Building a Coaching Staff:
In the graphic above, notable active coaches that Toub has coached with are listed. I broke this down into offense and defense. A few coaches who are over 60 years old and retired were omitted.
Toub has been around the league for a long time, so I was expecting to see a large coaching tree. Even so, I am impressed with the volume of quality names on the list. His network includes six current NFL head coaches, another six former NFL head coaches, and five current NFL coordinators.
“Everybody wants to get the offensive-minded guy to come in and coach up their quarterback, but at the same time, good head coaches aren’t must good offensive minds and good defensive minds. Good head coaches, they manipulate the whole building. They provide direction, they provide structure. They provide accountability. And that’s what you want out of a special teams coordinator anyway.”– Bill Cowher
In addition, it includes nine players who played for the Bears in the Lovie Smith era. Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith placed a premium on intelligence, and it is showing in the coaching ranks years later. Many of these players are currently coaches on the high school level though. Therefore, they would likely not be ready to jump into anything beyond a position coach role if interested.
Dave Toub’s Player Development History
The chart above shows a breakdown of the players drafted when Toub served as a special teams coach or coordinator. Because of the variability of players that a special teams coach works with, I included all non-QB draft picks from the fourth round or later. It’s reasonable to say most draft picks after the third round must earn snaps on special teams first. Therefore, it’s only logical that Toub played a hand in developing these later-round draft picks. Percentiles are based on AV share for every player drafted from 2001-2020.
Among the players included, there are 41 instances of above-average development and 44 instances of below-average development. At the DB position, 54% of the players included developed favorably. Positions of concern include LB and WR.
“He never missed on a player. If he tells you a guy can kick in the league, take it to the bank. He’ll find guys, if you’re set at the position, we were still going to bring in a guy he liked and get him some exposure in the preseason.”– Greg Gabriel, former Bears’ Director of College Scouting
In addition to drafted players, Toub deserves credit for the undrafted players who developed in his tenure. Special teams coaches are a major part of roster management. For example, they have a say in who makes the roster, who is active on game day, and which UDFAs are targeted. The ST coordinator needs to know all the positional breakdowns and battles so they can factor all those players into special teams. A handful of these UDFA players acquired under Toub have turned into impressive NFL contributors.
A Special Teams Coach?
Yes, I know. Admittedly, I had the same thought myself. Very few career-special teams coaches have become head coaches in general, not to mention successful head coaches. The dataset below includes any coach spending three-plus seasons coaching special teams before getting a head coach position.
The results here are impressive. These coaches account for 10 Super Bowl wins (six from Belichick) and 21 Super Bowl appearances (nine from Belichick). The coaches have totaled 80 playoff appearances in 181 seasons (44%). That figure shrinks to 62 playoff appearances in 153 seasons (41%) when excluding Belichick. Among this group of coaches, 46% of them have a career win percentage over 50%. Therefore, the data does support hiring a head coach with a few years of special teams work on his resume.
Whether that means a career special teams coach is a good hire is a different question though. I only found three coaches that spent most of their respective careers on special teams before becoming head coaches. Those three coaches are Mike Ditka, John Harbaugh, and Joe Judge. However, Ditka did play tight end in the NFL for 12 seasons before becoming a coach.
Special teams coordinator is one of the only positions in the building that works with the entire organization, meaning the players, coaches, assistants, and front office. The ST coordinator needs to know the entire roster of their team and opponents. By nature, special teams coaches need to be well-versed in situational football.
The ST coach typically holds meetings in front of the entire team. They work with the OL on field goals, pass catchers on the hands team, DL on field goal blocks, and DBs on kick coverage. Meanwhile, LBs, RBs, and TEs are key positions to multiple special teams’ phases.
Dave Toub Summary
- The most extensive and impressive coaching network I have reviewed to date.
- History of developing late-round draft picks and UDFAs through special teams snaps.
- Special teams role that addresses the team as a whole and knows each position group thoroughly.
- Has consistently coached excellent special teams units ranking near the top of the league every year.
- Reputation for leadership and highly respected around the NFL among players and coaches.
- Has experience navigating large market media in Chicago and Philadelphia.
“Guys just gravitate to him. They listen to him. They respect him.”– Former Bears Long Snapper Patrick Mannelly
- Has never held a role outside of special teams in the NFL.
- No head coach, offensive coordinator, or defensive coordinator experience at any level.
- Toub has been considered and interviewed for HC positions multiple times before but has been passed over in favor of “offensive gurus” (Trestman, Philbin). Do you need to go after a more exciting hire?
Final Words on Dave Toub
If Toub can lean on his extensive coaching network to bring in quality assistants, I see no reason to overlook him as a candidate. The more you research him, the more you find an A+ personality that cares about his players and his job. He knows how to hold individuals accountable and has had his eyes on the entire roster for years.
“He is the real deal. This guy can coach. Period. He’s a big guy, physically, who can take over a room when he has to. He gets people to buy-in. These guys love playing for him. He comes from a great [coaching] family tree. Look at Andy Reid’s assistants over the years. This guy is ready. All he needs is a chance.”– One of Toub’s former colleagues
With Toub’s extensive network, I don’t think he wouldn’t have any issues finding high-quality coordinators and assistants. Meanwhile, he is a coach who has the chops to lead a team and make sure all parties are putting the work in.
I like the idea of Toub taking over in the head coach position, but I have my doubts about whether it will happen. If a team does finally give him the top role, I will applaud them for making the right move. However, I have my doubts about whether the league is willing to take that chance on a special teams lifer.
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