Five things to know about new Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky:
Tony Dungy convinced him to get into coaching. As the story goes, Manusky was a linebacker with the Minnesota Vikings from 1991-93 when Dungy was the defensive coordinator. It’s where Manusky played after he left the Redskins. At one point, Dungy asked Manusky if he had ever considered going into coaching. Manusky’s reply, as he relayed to the Detroit Free Press: “Man, I ain’t coaching. No way.” But after finishing his career with Kansas City in 1999, Manusky turned to coaching and Dungy helped him again.
"He gave me an internship in my first year out of the league down in Tampa, and it was great," Manusky once told USA Today. "I thank him for that. I was a guy who knew the game but [also] knew he was limited athletically. But I understood the route combinations and all that important stuff. It just took it from there.”
Manusky’s first stop: as a linebackers coach with the Redskins in 2001 under then-coach Marty Schottenheimer. But thanks to a move that was bad at the time and looks worse years later, the Redskins fired Schottenheimer and Manusky went with him to San Diego.
Joe Gibbs thought he was “goofy.” That’s how Manusky was described in a 1989 story in the Washington Post. It was his second year in the NFL and he was hoping to challenge Neal Olkewicz for the starting middle linebacker position. The story focused on Manusky’s somewhat, well, goofy behavior. For example: At Colgate, he once grew a beard and shaved off one half. He also had nicknames such as “Moondog” and “Him” (the latter based off a character in the movie Cannonball Run, apparently.
He went undrafted out of Colgate. Yet he played 12 seasons in the NFL, which always says something. Manusky figured out how he had to last in the league, which is why he focused hard on special teams. He also was considered a good backup. Funny thing is, the main reason he ended up with the Redskins was based on the recommendation of then Colgate athletic director Mark Murphy. The ex-Redskins defensive back tipped off then general manager Bobby Beathard of Manusky’s potential. His journey helped shape him as a coach. “I went through my 12 years just really understanding defenses and going at it from a coach's perspective,” he once said.
His track record is spotty. He was fired after four years with the 49ers; after one year with San Diego and after four with Indianapolis. There are reports that players in his past stops liked him (and those I talked to here like him; but end Ricky Jean Francois, who has played for him, declined comment); there is another report that said the opposite. With the Colts, his defense went through one four-game stretch in 2014 in which it allowed just one third down completion in each game -- the best such showing by an NFL team since 1970. But the fifth game in that stretch was not one to boast about: Pittsburgh beat the Colts, 51-34, and the defense allowed a club-record for completions (40), touchdown passes (six), passing yards (522) and total yards (639).
He learned a lot from Larry Peccatiello. When Manusky was asked on ESPN980 if he took anything from former Redskins defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon he said no, he took more from Peccatiello. That’s because he held the title of defensive coordinator during Manusky’s three seasons as a player in Washington (1988-90). Peccatiello also worked with the inside linebackers. Manusky then shared a story about what he took from Peccatiello: “I remember one time he was living in Warrenton, Virginia. He got kicked in the ribs by one horse he had. He was all bandaged up and came out to practice and he’s coaching a little bit. I said, ‘Larry, what’s wrong?’ He said the damn horse kicked me in the ribs. He picked up his [shirt] and it’s black and blue from mid-chest down to his stomach. He said, ‘I think I broke a couple ribs.’ That heart and desire for a guy his age, he was out there still coaching his butt off. I loved that. He brought that toughness.”