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Joe Whitt Jr.: ‘He’s just the man I’m trying to be’


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Joe Whitt Jr.: ‘He’s just the man I’m trying to aim to be’

Updated: Feb. 16, 2024, 9:11 a.m.|Published: Feb. 16, 2024, 9:00 a.m.
~4 minutes

Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. speaks during a press conference

Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. speaks during a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at Commanders Park in Ashburn, Va.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

When the Washington Commanders introduced Joe Whitt Jr. as their defensive coordinator during a press conference on Thursday, the new coach said the NFL team had hired “a country boy from Alabama.”

More important to Washington coach Dan Quinn: He’d hired “a coach’s kid” for his first staff with the Commanders.

“He grew up a coach’s kid,” Quinn said. “Joe’s father was an exceptional coach at Auburn for a really long time. You know you’re a good coach when you don’t coach there anymore and you still have a locker in the coaches’ locker room. That’s Joe Whitt Sr.

“So coming up as a coach’s kid, Joe’s been on practice fields since he was this tall, and so he knew what good looked like along the way, and he’s been more than ready for this opportunity to do it. …

“He’s got a fantastic football background.”

Joe Whitt Sr. worked as a defensive assistant at Auburn for 25 seasons, serving on the staffs of Pat Dye, Terry Bowden and Tommy Tuberville.

“The first thing that I learned from my dad was this is a people’s business and to treat people fairly,” Joe Whitt Jr. said on Thursday. “My dad was a hard, hard coach, man. He’s a hard man to play for. But his players played a certain style. They ran and hit. They were fundamentally sound, and that’s what I got from him. I know I’m a backend guy, not a linebacker coach like he was, but he’s what I’m trying to be.

“I know he never reached to become a head coach and all that, but the respect that he has whenever he walks into a building – everybody respects him. If he walked in here right now, you would know he was in here because he has that type of command of a room. He’s just the man I’m always trying to aim to be.”

The Auburn High School graduate also coached at Auburn. A walk-on wide receiver, Whitt became a student assistant working with the Tigers’ pass-catchers after injuries ended his playing days.

Over the past 22 seasons, Whitt has coached at The Citadel and Louisville in college and the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.

A former Super Bowl coach with the Falcons, Quinn took the Commanders’ top job after three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys. During those three seasons, Whitt worked as Dallas’ secondary coach and pass-game coordinator.

Washington preceded its new coaching staff with a 4-13 record in 2023. The Commanders gave up more points and more yards than any other team in the NFL.


Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

Edited by aubiefifty
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