The Colts recently announced the official signing of 4 members of their staff. Three of the names might have been pretty familiar to you. One of them probably wasn’t.
Colts have signed Matt Eberflus as defensive coordinator, Nick Sirianni as offensive coordinator, Bubba Ventrone as special teams coordinator and Rusty Jones as director of sports performance.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) February 16, 2018
DETAILS: https://t.co/dcEoc3WsB8 pic.twitter.com/4T2XlY7q68
Rusty Jones is a well-known name around NFL circles, but he might not be well known to you. Jones has had a long and distinguished NFL career. He got his start working with the Buffalo Bills in 1985, which tells immediately where the connection starts with the Colts by way of Frank Reich.
Jones was involved in changing the way the Bills thought about their strength and conditioning program. He is credited with pioneering the use of exercise science to great effect in football. Marv Levy referred to him as the Bills’ “secret weapon” during his time there, when the Bills no-huddle “K-Gun” offense was wearing down opposing defenses.
By crafting individual diets and workout programs for each player and depending upon their position, Jones helped to build a team that had the stamina to punish opponents. Bruce Smith gives Jones credit as “one of the main reasons” he is in the hall of fame. The ability to work with players and maximize what they eat and how they work out has become a much larger part of the game, but Jones has been on the cutting edge of it from the beginning.
After leaving Buffalo, Jones joined the Chicago Bears staff from 2005-2013. That timeline links him up with GM Chris Ballard, who was there from 2001-2012. When he arrived with the Bears, he set to work helping Brian Urlacher deal with the regular struggle he had with leg cramps and hamstring injuries.
All he was able to do was develop a program for Urlacher that let him play all 16 games for the next 7 seasons and resulted in Urlacher taking the defensive player of the year award in 2005, just a year after beginning work with Jones.
First, the mere fact that a guy who is intimately acquainted with both the GM and the head coach is willing to come out of retirement to join the Colts staff should be encouraging to fans. This is a unifying presence, a respected voice, and a knowledgeable guy who the Colts no doubt hope can help them make a major dent in their injuries as well as get them into condition to run a more up-tempo style.
We don’t know exactly what his role on the team will be, but his expertise and familiarity with Reich and the system they will likely want to implement could be very helpful to getting players ready for it. George Bremer points out that the Eagles did something like this under Chip Kelly that carried over when Pederson came along.
Director of sports performanc interesting title for Rusty Jones. Eagles kept some of Chip Kelly’s structure. Part of that was a unique approach to strength and conditioning that fell under the “sports performance” header. Could #Colts be trying something similar?— George Bremer (@gmbremer) February 16, 2018
Whatever his exact role, it can hardly hurt to add a man to the staff who has successfully developed better and more efficient ways of conditioning and preparing players to help prevent injury. Even better that he is familiar with and presumably likes both the general manager and head coach. As the staff continues filling out, we can start to get a little better idea of what direction this team is headed, and I for one, am excited.