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Tom Pratt Stays Current For Cardinals

Posted Apr 12, 2013

Pass-rush coach worked Super Bowl I but history isn't his focus

Pass-rush coach Tom Pratt works on some reports in his office this week.

Tom Pratt doesn’t shy away from his lengthy résumé or its highlights, like how he worked on the coaching staff of the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I or won his first ring with the Chiefs a couple years later in Super Bowl IV before the AFL and NFL had even merged.

Experience helps. But it doesn’t change the focus of the Cardinals’ new pass-rush coach.

“With football, there is history, and looking back on that is all well and good,” Pratt said. “But today is current events. When you coach football, history is history. Current events is what we have to accomplish now, and that’s what I’m looking at.”

The concept of Bruce Arians’ first coaching staff was size – to shrink the ratio of players to coaches in order to help better teach – and diversity. That was underscored with the addition of Pratt, at 75 the oldest member of the staff and the other side of the defensive line coin to defensive line coach Brentson Buckner. Buckner, a long-time NFL player, is starting his first season as a full-time NFL coach.

It is Pratt who can march out a laundry list of successful NFL pass rushers under his watch, from Curley Culp and Buck Buchanan from those early days with the Chiefs to Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Warren Sapp in some of his later work.

Those are the players that dot his training videos as Pratt tries to convey what will work in getting to the quarterback.

“It’s a great thing because it’s like he’s seen it all,” outside linebacker Sam Acho said. “Nothing surprises him and he knows what works. That’s the coolest part. He’s been to multiple Super Bowls, coached multiple Hall of Famers.”

Pratt’s first journey through the NFL coaching ranks began in 1963 with Kansas City and lasted through 2000. He’s aware of the gap between then and now, noting that even in what as retirement he never left the game. He spent several years coaching football in Japan, and the last few years he worked for the IMG Academy coaching up prospective NFL players prior to the draft. During the recent lockout, he helped coach what was basically a Tampa Bay Buccaneers minicamp.

Arians – who also added 74-year-old Tom Moore to his offensive staff – didn’t think twice about bringing Pratt aboard.

“He is one of the best teachers of pass rush techniques that there are in the whole country,” Arians said. “I knew the passion and energy was still there.”

Pratt echoes that thought. He was anxious to get back on to a staff, to work with Buckner and work with the Cardinals’ pass rusher. That starts with their two star linemen, Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett, but will filter through the front seven as new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles installs his version of the 3-4.

“It’s the same concepts” as when Thomas or even Buchanan were chasing quarterbacks, Pratt said. “When I teach these guys, it’s the same thing. It’s still relevant.”

Pratt wants to deliver the principles of good pass rushing, stressing not only good technique but commitment. It’s not enough to make an initial burst, he said, but commit to a constant push throughout the play.

Arians wants to add “one more good young pass rusher” but both he and Pratt praised what they have to work with already.

“I don’t care about sacks, I care about production,” Pratt said. “You’ve got to win (games). You’ve got to force takeaways. Third is pressures. Sacks will take care of themselves.”

 

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