Christian Parker Deep Dive

Dantés

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Reports indicate that Christian Parker is being offered the DC job in Green Bay. I don't know hardly anything about Parker, so I'm digging into him a little bit and figured I would record here what I learn:

Biographical: 32 year old (!) native of New Jersey who attended high school (Battlefield) and college (Richmond) in Virginia. Four year player at defensive back for the FCS Richmond Spiders.

Coaching History:

-2013-2014: Defensive Backs Coach, Virginia State (D-II)

-2015-2016: Defensive Backs Coach, Norfolk State (D-IAA)

-2017: Defensive Analyst, Notre Dame

-2018: Defensive Analyst, Texas AM

-2019-2020: Defensive Quality Control, Packers

-2021-2023: Defensive Backs Coach, Broncos

Influences:

Prior to jumping to the NFL, Parker latched onto Mike Elko for two years (he was the DC @ Notre Dame in 2017 and @ Texas AM in 2018). I'm not familiar with Elko, but from what little I can glean it seems that he favors mixing his fronts and coverages in order to disguise intent pre-snap. It seems he's not a "line up and play" type of coach who relies solely on execution. From his own mouth, he would say that scheme is secondary to fundamentals. I don't know how telling that is, philosophically, since that's a very common approach to defense at the college level.

Parker joined the Packers after two seasons under Elko. I assume it was a LaFleur hire and not a Pettine one since Pettine had already been there at that point. However, I have no idea what the connection would have been. In any case, Parker's first exposure to coaching at the pro level came under Mike Pettine's pressure based system. Pettine is a branch off of the Rex Ryan, Ravens coaching tree that is still very much alive and well in the NFL. He obviously wasn't the best at implementing it, but it's a good thing that Parker spent two seasons learning its principles.

Parker was hired away by the Broncos to become a position coach in 2021 under Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell. Thereby, Parker got exposure to the recent fad of two high shells, Fangio being the godfather and Donatell one of his long-time disciples. Contrary to popular belief, the two high shell that Fangio has popularized is not necessarily a soft box defense. It certainly can be, but it doesn't have to be. The whole concept is based on being consistent and "vanilla" pre-snap and then rotating into a variety of coverages post-snap. Thereby, the defense gives the QB very little pre-snap information and makes their post-snap processing hectic and difficult. The reason it uses so much two high is because that's a configuration that can rotate post-snap into a wide variety of coverages.

After Fangio and Donatell were shown the door in Denver, Parker spent a year working under Ejiro Evero, another Fangio disciple. Evero, critically, has been one of the branches of the Fangio tree to really succeed. He was great in Denver and has done a good job in terrible circumstances with the Panthers.

In 2023, with the arrival of Sean Payton, the defense has been led by Vance Joseph. Joseph himself has worked under Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Wade Philips, and Marvin Lewis. That's not exactly a unified coaching tree, and I think that's a good indicator of Joseph as a coach. He's hard to place into a "system" bucket. One thing that is distinctive about him is how much he likes to send extra pressure. In 2023, his Broncos blitzed 35% of the time, which was 5th in the league. In 2022, his Cardinals were 2nd in blitz rate; they were 3rd in 2021; 4th in 2020; 3rd in 2019.

Overall: In a very short time, Parker has gained exposure to a variety of NFL schemes. He spent 2 seasons in a Ravens/Ryan tree defense, 2 seasons in a Fangio/Two-High tree defense, and 1 season with Joseph, who doesn't really belong to either tree. The best coaches in the NFL are the guys who, though they may have a "home system," are able to adapt and flex depending on opponent and their own personnel. So I like that variety.

Players Under Parker:

Over his time as the DB's coach in Denver ('21-23), here are the notable guys:

-Patrick Surtain: Obviously a very high end prospect, so you'd expect him to be a good pro, but he was stellar immediately under Parker's coaching.

-Ja'Quan McMillian: Parker got really good play out of this 2022 UDFA corner.

-P.J. Locke: Locke was a UDFA in 2019 who had never seen starting action until this season; he played well for Parker.

-Kareem Jackson: Was an inherited veteran; can't really say much about Parker's influence on him one way or the other.

-Justin Simmons: Ditto ^^^

-Fabian Moreau: Parker got solid play out of this journeyman corner.

Bottom Line: I have no idea if Parker will be a good coordinator in the NFL. His track record is incredibly short. However, he's worked under a number of very good coaches who come from a variety of coaching trees. His work has also shown tangible evidence of success on the field. Critically, LaFleur knows him well, having hired him once before. If he's the guy, you have to trust that Petals sees greatness in him and wants in at the ground level. This is pure speculation, but I would guess that LaFleur regrets not taking a chance on Evero in 2021. He chose experience over the up-and-comer. One wonders if he's decided he won't make that mistake again.
 

Zartan

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I hope he's good. If Love continues to blossom and we got a lock down defense, watch out NFL we be coming.
 

PikeBadger

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That would be a very meteoric rise to a very high profile job.
 
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Dantés

Dantés

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@Dantés Really thorough, once again.

I'll throw this link out from Twitter.
Reportedly, Vance Joseph in Denver was running a hybrid of Sean Payton's own scheme and the Fangio scheme. Apparently, they turned up the pressure a touch at midseason (sound familiar?) and the Denver defense ended strong.


I'm speculating based on scanty evidence here, but I like the sound of this, especially in light of the variety of systems in his background. It seems like he's quite adaptable and able to integrate concepts, rather than being married to a system.
 

games

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I'm speculating based on scanty evidence here, but I like the sound of this, especially in light of the variety of systems in his background. It seems like he's quite adaptable and able to integrate concepts, rather than being married to a system.
I admit to being triggered anytime I get a Fangio vibe. As we discussed I have my reasons. It seems tough to ask world-class athletes who have gotten to this level by trusting their instincts to "read and react." At that point, all those 40 times and bench presses done in the "tighty whities" and the Wonderlics and S2s don't mean a thing.

But, I agree. Everything screams "hire this guy" while he's young and available. Which also makes me concerned...
 

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