New year. New defensive line coach.
The Arizona Cardinals began the third week of OTAs on Monday, and the team’s new DL coach Matt Burke is already liking what he’s seeing from his position group.
“There’s veteran leadership at every level. … Focus and detail have been the biggest things,” Burke told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Monday of his first impressions. “It’s a pretty extensive package and front that (DC Vance Joseph) runs. That sort of focus and attention at every level — those guys have been locked in to what we’re doing.
“It’s really cool, you can watch it on film when you’re doing cut-ups like when I first got in the offseason. But to be around it and hear the communication and how they’re going through this process, it’s pretty cool. It’s a pretty tight group already so it’s fun to join something like that.”
Burke reiterated that it’s hard to really judge and assess defensive linemen accurately until they get to put their pads on in training camp. After all, the game is won and lost in the trenches along the line of scrimmage.
“That’s always a starting point, especially on the D-line,” Burke said. “It doesn’t mean anything until we put pads on. That’s just the reality of the world that we live in up front. … Right now it’s about establishing techniques and working hard and that work ethic. They’ve been better than I expected and anticipated from that point of view.
“Once we go back into training camp with pads, that’s another layer. Every time you add an extra element to whatever you’re doing — whether it’s pads or another drill — it piles on. So I try to never fully judge because sometimes guys shine differently when it’s a physical contest compared to out here, we’re a little more running around.”
The Cardinals DL coach also admires the work ethic he’s already seen from the group, which has been spearheaded once again by none other than three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
Burke added that when you have a guy like Watt leading the way in the hard work department, it’s a lot easier for the younger guys to just get in line and follow the example set for them.
“He’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed working with Burke,” Watt told reporters on Monday. “He’s extremely smart, he’s very detailed on what he wants and how he sees the D-line playing. And then he puts it into practice extremely well both in the meeting room and on the field.
“He does a great job of explaining in the film room what he wants and breaking down the film room and teaching you exactly what he’d like to see and then taking it out on the field and drilling it and doing a great job with that. So I’ve enjoyed it so far.”