Defensive Backs Will Miss Coombs' Energy, Passion
NASHVILLE – Go ahead and question Kerry Coombs’ grammar, if you’d like. That’s fair.
No one can ever doubt the passion of the man who served as Tennessee Titans secondary coach for the past two years.
It was he who injected the phrase “My man catches no balls” into the lexicon of the Titans’ secondary. Players eventually shortened it to MMCNB but bought into the simplicity of the message, which Coombs delivered – as he did everything else – with verve and unbridled, unfailing enthusiasm. Eventually the five letters showed up on T-shirts and on placards around the locker room.
Coombs informed the Titans and his players Monday that he had accepted a job as defensive coordinator at Ohio State. The school formally announced the hiring a short time later. His departure comes the same day defensive coordinator Dean Pees retired, which created two openings on the staff.
“The dude is a ball of energy,” cornerback Logan Ryan said of Coombs. “It’s legit. I mean, the stories I could tell – I could make a movie about it. You saw it every day from the first day he got here – the screaming, the yelling and stuff like that.”
Despite his brief time with the franchise, Coombs will have a permanent place alongside the likes of former defensive line coach Jim Washburn, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger as the most vocal and, in a way, entertaining assistants of the Titans era (1999-present). All attracted crowds during open training camp workouts because they were impossible to miss.
As with the others, Coombs was more than just a loud voice. He demanded attention to detail from those in his meeting room and challenged them to be better each day than they were the previous one.
Tennessee’s secondary finished tied for eighth in the NFL with 14 interceptions this season. Last season, the Titans finished among the league’s top 10 in passing yards allowed per game.
“He’s meant a lot,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “He’s been instrumental to our success the last two years. Coming from college is not an easy thing to do. You’re developing young men in college and then you kind of have to switch over to a different mindset when you’re dealing with grown men, who have their own opinion. You have to have kind of a give-and-take relationship.
“He’s done a great job adjusting to that.”
Now he gets to return to where he is most comfortable – in more ways than one.
A native of Ohio, Coombs played football at the University of Dayton and spent his entire professional life – except for the past two years – in that state as either a college or high school coach. Before he joined the Titans, he spent six seasons at Ohio State as cornerbacks coach (2012), cornerbacks coach/special teams coordinator (2013) and assistant defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach/special teams coordinator (2017).
“I like that he knows Ohio State and he knows how to recruit to Ohio State,” OSU coach Ryan Day said in a release. “He’s recruited some of the players currently on the team and he coached a handful of Buckeye defensive backs who went on to become first-round NFL draft picks.
“He is an excellent coach and he has had two outstanding seasons in the NFL on Mike Vrabel’s staff with the Tennessee Titans.”