A Closer Look at Keith Millard's Career

Keith Millard, the new co-Defensive Line Coach and pass-rush specialist for the Bucs, was Warren Sapp before Warren Sapp. He was an undertackle for the Vikings from 1985 to 1991. He had 11 sacks as a rookie. 10.5 as a sophomore. He set the single-season record for sacks by an interior lineman at 18 in 1989, and the record hasn't been broken to this day. He won Defensive Player of the Year for that accomplishment. With Millard at undertackle and Chris Doleman at defensive end the Vikings had one of the most feared defensive lines of the 1980s. The two of them combined for 39 sacks in 1989. But it would only take one game to effectively end Keith Millard's career. In the 4th game of the 1990 season against the Bucs he tried to jump over a cut block by Randy Grimes, but injured his knee, tearing his ACL. While he would stay in the NFL through 1993, he would play just 18 games over those 4 seasons and record a mere 5 sacks. The injury proved in the end to be too much to overcome. 

So Millard went into coaching instead. After some stops at minor colleges, he became the Broncos' Assistant Defensive Line Coach and Pass Rush specialist in 2001. In 2005 he moved on to become the Raiders' D-Line coach, helping Warren Sapp get double-digit sacks in 2006 for the first time in 6 years. He managed to impress Sapp so much that #99 compared him to Rod Marinelli, and lobbied with the Bucs to hire the former Raider coach. Sapp isn't one to hand out praise easily, so that's pretty impressive to me. 

The defensive lines he coached performed at a high level as well. During his tenure with the Broncos the team ranked 11th, 12th, 10th, 9th and 12th in Adjust Sack Rate (from Football Outsiders, explained here). He did that with a defensive line that was ranked 11th the year before he got to Denver, so that doesn't make it look all that impressive. But the year after he left, that defensive line collapsed and was ranked 31st. In Oakland he took a 29th ranked defensive line up to 14th in 2005, 11th in 2006, 24th in 2007 and 6th in 2008. Looking at his body of work, he certainly looks like a good coach, although it should be noted that his Oakland lines had trouble stopping the run. That may not be much of a problem for the Bucs, as that's what Gary Stretz is here for.  

While Millard has spent 2009 out of football, he has not been away from the game. He runs a Football Academy where he teaches pass rush techniques to players at all levels. Interestingly, Bucs' 2nd-round pick Brian Price is one of the players who spent time with Keith Millard last offseason. The video below shows some details of how he coaches, at least at what seem to be high-school players. He seems energetic, intense, but also like a good teacher with a focus on fundamentals. And that sounds like a really good fit for the Bucs.

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