Saying he'll "burn a lot of trees" getting his new team ready, veteran Bengals safety Chris Crocker bid farewell to secondary coach Kevin Coyle on Friday.
"He's well prepared; he's put his time in and he's very deserving," Crocker said shortly after he was informed Coyle had been officially named the Dolphins defensive coordinator.
Coyle, who has coached the Bengals defensive backs for 11 seasons, called it a bittersweet day as he drove back to his native Staten Island, N.Y. Friday to begin the transition.
"We came here when my daughter was in third grade and now she's in college," he said. "The biggest thing I've always felt about coaching is the relationship with the players and there have been some great guys I've been able to coach with in those 11 years. But I've always wanted this opportunity to be able to run a defense on the NFL level."
Coyle's thoroughness has always been admired by his players and perhaps best exemplified when he put a six-inch ruler in their lockers the day before the season finale against the Ravens. It was a game, Coyle said, that would be decided by the little things.
"I definitely played some of my best football for him," said Crocker, whose career was revived in the middle of the 2008 season after he was cut by the Dolphins. "He's always trying to get you in that best position possible. He sleeps with that clicker in his hand."
Coyle never coached with new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, but they've known each other for 25 years from their northeast roots. Coyle drove to the wake of Philbin's son two weeks ago in Milwaukee, before the former Packers offensive coordinator took the job in Miami.
With Philbin working with the offense, he's entrusting Coyle with a top 15 defense that is the strength of Miami's rebuilding effort.
"Joe's a good man and did a great job in Green Bay. He's got a great vision for what he wants done in Miami," Coyle said.
Coyle, a coordinator at four colleges before arriving in 2001, had a shot to interview with the Eagles for their coordinator job last season. But since he was still under contract for the 2011 season Bengals president Mike Brown denied Philadelphia permission to talk to him. It was a move that Coyle says he "completely understood."
"Mike did what owners around the league do all the time and will continue to do and I can see where he was coming from," he said. "I can't overemphasize how good Mike and his family have been to me and how much I appreciate his loyalty to coaches."