When Chip Kelly hired Jeff Stoutland, he described the 51-year-old as a “cutting‑edge offensive line coach with old school toughness.”
After having spent 27 years in the college ranks, most recently during a two-year stint at Alabama, Stoutland is now making the jump to the pros. And if you think he’s pumped about the opportunity, well, you’d be right.
“I look at every day that I come to this complex, I’m jacked out of my mind,” Stoutland said Thursday morning. “I’m excited. I’m like, ‘What are we going to get done today? How am I going to improve today? What concept are we going to master today?’ ”
He then held his thumb and his index finger about half-an-inch apart.
“I just want them to get that much better. I don’t care if you’ve been a pro for 10 years, 11 years. I just want to see you get that much better every day. Some of these guys might think I’m crazy, but I think that when there’s some juice in the air, you all play better. Everybody plays better.”
Stoutland takes over perhaps the most intriguing positional group on the team. The offensive line was a disaster last year, but it’s not as if the cupboard is bare. Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans return from season-ending injuries. Evan Mathis provides stability at left guard. And the team invested its first-round pick in Lane Johnson to take over at right tackle.
Any chances for a quick turnaround depend on the guys up front and Kelly’s ability to get his offense going quickly.
The focus in the coming weeks for Stoutland will be on scheme and technique. But the one thing he’ll demand is that the players match his energy.
“Your demeanor and how you go about every day is just huge, it’s huge,” he said. “Just realize that, even the people out in the world… forget about football… let’s just go down the street to a diner or whatever. You get a waiter or waitress who comes up and they’re like, ‘Hey! How are you today?’ I like that. I’d like to be around that person. I’m just saying, I like to be around that person. I’ll hang out there another 10 minutes just to be around that kind of person.
“I call the other people the Fellowship of the Miserable. I’ll walk on the other side of the street to avoid that person because I don’t want that in my life. I don’t want to be miserable. I don’t want to be negative. I don’t live like that.”
Like the rest of the coaches, Stoutland has less than seven weeks to get his guys ready for their Week 1 matchup against the Redskins.