When Darren Rizzi came to the Miami Dolphins, he was already a tough minded football coach.
The mental and physical toll of coaching was already embodied in his mind and in his heart.
So during the 2010 season when then coach Tony Sparano tabbed Rizzi to be the Special Teams coordinator after an awful game on Monday Night versus the rival Patriots, thus relieving John Bonamego of his duties. It probably came as no surprise to those associated with Rizzi in his past that he was ready to take the next step and lead a unit (FoxSports Florida).
Back in 2007, Darren Rizzi had an incredible opportunity to coach at his alma mater-University of Rhode Island after leaving a promising position under head coach of Rutgers-Greg Schiano.
At the time, Schiano endorsed Rizzi:
“I am very happy for Darren and his family,” said Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano. “He has done a great job here at Rutgers and I know that he will do a great job as the head football coach at the University of Rhode Island. We will miss him but are very happy for him and his family.”
Had Rizzi stuck around at Rutgers, he could have found his path to the NFL as Schiano became coach of the Buccaneers in 2012 and most likely Rizzi could have been elevated to ST Coordinator and been a big part of his staff.
What’s more, Rizzi was tabbed as assistant special teams coordinator by Tony Sparano and his staff with the Dolphins and took the skill set he developed over time to the position as Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator.
You see, while Rizzi can be seen yelling and screaming he exudes his passion and his love for every member of the Dolphins team on not only his special teams unit, but both sides of the ball.
Rizzi over the years, has acquired both knowledge and experience to coach both sides of the ball-linebackers, tight ends, and special teams as a college coach.
As a player, Rizzi was a tight end and later found his way as a college coach coaching a variety of positions on both sides of the ball.
The special teams unit is almost as important as an offense and defense combined.
When a game changes in either direction (punt or kick off coverage versus punt or kickoff receiving), the special teams coach has to be ready to fire up his unit and hit the field with emotions in check and accomplish the goal to either block (receiving) or make the stop (punt or kick off).
More importantly, the special teams coordinator meets every player on the team as many players at one point or another as rookies have several assignments on different special teams plays-an on side kick for instance will incorporate a hands team or receivers of all types-Rizzi has to be prepared to coach them and stress the perfection.
When a kicker misses a kick, Rizzi is in that guys face holding the long snapper, holder, and kicker accountable to do better on the next opportunity.
This dedication to the Dolphins is not lost on players from the past to players in the present.
All current Dolphins players endorsements of Coach Rizzi have come in droves via Twitter and via an interview with Joe Schad: “Riz is the ultimate players coach,” Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake told the Palm Beach Post Wednesday. “He has a way of balancing the personality of his players while getting the most from them. He’s intense but compassionate and that’s what makes him a great coach.”
A great coach. A players coach.
A football coach.
All the boxes checked.
Did Kenyan Drake ever echo that sentiment of former coach Adam Gase after being essentially misused in a variety of games in favor for Frank Gore?
For everything that Coach Rizzi brings to the table, he’d make a heck of a head coach, one that has the players support and that has to at least make it a tough decision for VP Chris Grier and the leadership team in Miami during the interview process.
*All stats and info provided by University Rhode Island Athletics, the Palm Beach Post, and Fox Sports Florida
Photo Credit: South Florida Sun-Sentinel