INDIANAPOLIS — Brian Baker, who was hired last month as the Indianapolis Colts' new defensive line coach, recently sat down with Colts.com's Larra Overton and discussed his coaching philosophy, being reunited with head coach Frank Reich and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, the impact of Justin Houston and more.
Here's that conversation, which you can watch in its entirety above:
You go back quite a ways, both with Frank Reich, whom you played with at the University of Maryland, and Matt Eberflus, who you've coached with in the NFL before. So this is almost a reunion or sorts for you.
Baker: "It is, and I'm really excited about it. I've obviously been in a lot of different places, had a lot of different jobs, but I can't remember when I've been so excited to be someplace and to be with people I really believe in and like and (am) excited about. So this is a great opportunity for me — real blessing."
After getting a chance to get back into college football at the University of Alabama, what was most enticing for you about the Colts aside from the familiarity with Reich and Eberflus?
Baker: "Well this might be silly to say, but that's really it. Because at my stage of my life, I don't foresee myself going to be a head coach again, and if somewhere down the line if I end up being a coordinator again that's fine, but if not, that's fine, too. You know, I just want to be the best defensive line coach I can be, so when it gets to that it's about people. It's not about getting in the most strategically place to advance your career and do all that — I've done all that, and when I've done that intentionally that usually didn't work out anyway. So it became a people thing for me, and Frank Reich is unbelievable. I mean, whatever impression he's left and has here, trust me, it's not close to the reality of how good that guy is. And Matt Eberflus — these guys are friends, you know what I mean? And I've never been in that situation before, and I'm so excited about it I can hardy speak. I really am."
You've got a veteran guy like Justin Houston to lead your defensive line unit. How exciting is it for you to be able to coach those guys up?
Baker: "You said it. Having an established veteran — and I've been fortunate in my career, I've been around guys like Justin before, guys that have been accomplished, had a lot of success in the league, and I'm hoping, based on the way that I've seen Justin play, that he's still very, very excited about trying to get better, because that's infectious, particularly to the young guys. When they see old guys working and striving and trying to perfect their craft, there's, 'Well this guy's been to Pro Bowls and done all these things. He's working this hard doing these things,' that rubs off to the young players who don't know nearly as much. So I get excited about having an opportunity and help those young guys with their careers, too. So it is a good mix in the room. Obviously we need to do some things to make it better from a personnel standpoint, too — and that's the NFL — but as far as the guys that I've seen that I think I'm having the opportunity to coach, I'm really excited about (it)."
What are some of the day-in, day-out philosophies you want to implement with your guys along the defensive line?
Baker: "Well one of the things that I'm really excited about being with 'Flus is he believes in defenses being fast, physical and relentless. And I'm the same exact way. I've always been that way. I think that's where it starts with the defensive line, and I want that to be certainly the personality of the people in that room, to just absolutely hunt that ball, whether it's a run or a pass — not just rush the passer. So that's the first part of it, and then the next part of it is to be able to give them tools that they can use to be able to do that, because obviously our intent isn't going to get it done because you've got people on the other side of the ball that intend not to let that happen — that's what their intent is. But we're going to impose our will by giving them some tools; they provide the desire, the good lord gave them the ability, and we'll see if we can make it happen."
What are you looking forward to the most being in Indianapolis and being part of this community?
Baker: "I am looking forward to it. I've heard some great things about Indianapolis. I've got friends who have been here before, and they've all spoken very fondly of their experiences here in Indy. So I look forward to that, and then there's a phase in my life — this year will be the first time that my wife and I will be empty-nesters; my baby girl will be going off to college next fall, and she's already said, 'Well, look, we have an opportunity to live downtown,' so she wants to live downtown for the first time that we've ever done that, because every other move has been school district-based and getting in the best school district, so we're excited about the change in our lives, and then to do here it in Indy, we're really excited about."