If the name Derrius Bell sounds familiar, it should. Bell coached the defensive backs for the Houston Roughnecks under DC Ted Cottrell.
Now Bell and Cottrell led the Blues in The Spring League to a shutout in Week 1. We talked to Bell, and got the story of how they were able to get the guys so competitive after less than a week of practice.
The key was keeping it simple. Having worked with Cottrell before, they knew how each other coached, and together they put a plan out that allowed them to focus on their players playing with speed, not scheme, and let their natural talents be the difference.
“It’s not about the scheme, it’s about being able to line up, and play fast.”Derrius Bell
The Alphas did get into scoring range, Bell reminds us, but instead of trying for a field goal, they went for it on fourth down. Of course, the Blues defense held strong, and forced a turnover on downs.
It was challenging, getting all three units together, and playing as one, but Bell praises the front 7 for the pressure they had all game (7 sacks), and the secondary for intercepting a pass from Alphas QB Chase Fourcade.
Because it’s a short season, not a lot of time to celebrate the victories. Bell did have a chance to go over the win with his guys, then it was right back to work.
Bell knows it took a lot for the guys to buy-in to what they were doing. With just a few days to prepare, you don’t get a lot of time to know them and their strengths. The players don’t get a lot of time to learn their coaches either.
When it all comes together in a win like the Blues had though, it helps move on to the next week.
We asked what the differences would be when preparing for Week 2, Bell says the main thing is now they have film to watch on the other team, but he knows there’s tape on them now too.
“Even though it’s just a 1 game breakdown, you’ve got the opportunity to go see some of the tendencies they showed in Week 1.”Derrius Bell on preparing for the Aviators in Week 2
Knowing what his guys can do will help Bell put them in positions to succeed. Matching the effort they gave in Week 1, together with what they know about the team they play this week, this should turn into a great defensive performance by the Blues.
This week’s matchup is with the Aviators, led by QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson who had 2 TDs in Week 1 vs the Jousters. Not to mention the former Vipers teammates; XFL’s rushing leader, RB De’Veon Smith, who had 74 all-purpose yards, and TE Nick Truesdell, who had a TD.
This game will be on FS1 at 5pm eastern on Wednesday 11/4. I aksed if he thought it might add a layer for the guys to be on TV, but he pointed out that most of them had played in prime time, on a big stage, so, he didn’t foresee it being an issue.
This league is about the players trying to get a shot, or another shot at a long term playing opportunity, but it’s also about the coaches. There’s a lot of talent on the sidelines, and if guys like Bell can show their strengths, this could lead to chances for him to move up the coaching ladder.
Thanks for talking to us coach. And although he did call me out for rooting for the Conquerors, I will be pulling for the Blues to do well, at least on defense.