Sean Spencer was a college football coach for 25 years, earning the nickname ‘Coach Chaos’ for the energy and passion he brings to his work. ‘Chaos’ is now the New York Giants’ defensive line coach, his first NFL job.
Does he have to tone down his antics because he is now dealing with well-paid grown men rather than college kids?
“I can’t change, man. I’m coming hard every day,” Spencer said during a Thursday videoconference.
Austin Johnson played two seasons for Spencer at Penn State. The Giants’ defensive lineman described Spencer like this:
“He’s just an amazing coach. Great personality, great energy, loves what he does and you can tell,” Johnson said. “There’s just so much passion. It’s awesome.
“He’s definitely a high-energy kind of guy. He’s going to make sure you run to the ball. He’s going to run with you, he’s going to make you a better player. Whatever your strengths are he’s going to let you play to those and he’s just an all-around great coach.”
The Giants were indoctrinated into the ways of “Coach Chaos” on Wednesday, the first time they gathered on the field as a full group.
“I told them today that wasn’t a one-time thing yesterday and that it’s going to be like that every day,” Spencer said. “It’s the way you bring it. You can bring positive energy and be excited without berating somebody. They can feel when you’re upset and feel when you’re happy.
“I have to coach like that. When I leave the practice field, I have to be completely sweaty or I didn’t do a good job.”
The Giants were not the first NFL team to knock on Spencer’s door and asked if he wanted to make the jump. Working for the Giants, is the move Spencer said “made sense to me.”
“This opportunity, in terms of being a northeast kid, born and raised in the northeast [Hartford, Conn.] and having worked at Penn State, having the opportunity to work for the New York Giants is like a dream come true,” Spencer said. “It’s kind of surreal, you go from Penn State to the New York Giants having grown up in this area and recruited in this area. Pat Graham is a longtime friend of mine. I’ve known him since he was a graduate of Yale University. It just always made sense to me.”
There is a method to Spencer’s chaos.
“I just told them I am here to help them reach their potential and beyond,” Spencer said. “I don’t care if you were a high draft pick or you’re a free agent or a middle round guy. I’m here to help you reach your potential and that’s why coach brought me in. I’m going to work with these guys and take them to the next step, whatever that step is. I want to take them to their potential and beyond.”
One player who hasn’t lived up to his potential in the eyes of many in Leonard Williams, sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Can ‘Chaos’ help Williams, playing this season on the franchise tag, find another level of productivity?
“I think he knows I have his best interests in mind. He wants to have success,” Spencer said. “No one goes out on the field saying I was this high draft pick, I haven’t reached my potential. He wants to be great. He is detailed in the meetings, he asks great questions. He’s into football. I’m here to help him take his next step, whatever that is.”
Spencer is also responsible for the progress of Dexter Lawrence, drafted 17th overall by the Giants a season ago.
“I don’t know what the ceiling will be for him, but I’m just telling you I feel like he is one of the more athletic kids that I’ve seen. That I have had the opportunity to coach,” said Spencer, who first dealt met Lawrence when the player was in high school. “I watched him do a workout and I was amazed at how fluid he was as an athlete. I’m seeing some of the signs of that already.
“What his ceiling is, I don’t know. We are going to prepare him for the season and I’m going to push him to the brink and try to get the best out of him. Obviously, you guys have seen he is tremendously athletic. We’re going to put everything together. He listens and he’s a sponge for coaching. We’ll make him get to his potential that way.”
So, ‘Chaos’ has come to the Giants. In a few weeks, we begin to find out how that impacts the play of the Giants’ defensive line.