Kyle Caskey, who has three Big 12 All-Academic honors and two master's degrees, took another big assignment this week when he got his first job as an NFL position coach as new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's successor at running backs coach. After four seasons with the Bengals in a variety of roles under two offensive coordinators, Caskey gets to stand in front of his own room.
"Dealing with personalities is going to be fun but I know these guys, they know me," Caskey said Friday. "We're all on the same page. I am not going to come in that room and all of a sudden change who I am. I'm the same guy who I've been and they know me … there's only one ball. There's a bunch of guys that want that ball. We'll make sure that's taken care of and spread it out however we are going to spread it out and make sure they get it done."
After working six seasons on both sides of the ball in college, Caskey arrived as a quality control coach on offense in the final season of coordinator Bob Bratkowski's tenure in 2010 and the first of season of Jay Gruden's run in 2011. Last year he added assistant offensive line coach to Paul Alexander to his title while keeping up with the nuts and bolts of the scheme.
As the quality control coach, he's been in charge of putting together the playbooks and structuring the coaches' installation in a job that has exposed to him to every position.
"I have had that opportunity to not just be stuck with the O-line and know what the offensive line is doing, but I know what the receivers are doing, I know what the quarterback's reads are," Caskey said. "Being able to do that is going to put me in a perfect position to work with the running backs and hone their skills."
Caskey, a tight end for the Aggies before he earned his master's in agribusiness from Texas A&M and another in industrial technology from Louisiana-Monroe, is going to have plenty of homework. It sounds like with Jackson running the offense, Caskey's backs are going to be busy.
"We do want to run the ball and we do want to make sure that is a point of emphasis," Caskey said. "Jay wanted to do that as well. There were times we got down in games and we had to throw the ball but running the ball has got to be a point of emphasis."
With rookie running back Giovani Bernard getting more and more snaps as the season went on, Caskey may be preparing for an offseason Bernard becomes the starter. But he emphasized whatever happens both Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are going to get their carries.
"Coach Jackson did a great job with those guys. BenJarvus is a larger running back. He's a pounding, bruising running back. And Gio has his; he's a jitterbug out there. He does what he does," Caskey said. "You have to complement each other and keep them from getting hit too much because you can get beat up in this league. You need to have two guys. The other guys are going to be good too; you just have to get those guys involved. Keep them all upright for the whole season."
After 29 straight seasons Jim Anderson coached the running backs, the Bengals are now on their third backs coach in three seasons. But, in a sense, Caskey has both of them around because in retirement Anderson has been known to visit Paul Brown Stadium to say hello. Green-Ellis worked under Anderson in his first season as a Bengal and Anderson was involved in the scouting of Bernard before Jackson coached him to the biggest rookie season by a Bengals back since Corey Dillon in 1997.
"(Jackson will be) be two doors down from me. Anytime I have a question or it's an issue, I just walk down the hallway and get it resolved," Caskey said. "I'm allowed to take the knowledge I learned from Paul and I've been in the system for three years, I was here … under Bratkowski. To take the knowledge I have learned from Paul and Hue and Jim Anderson and Jay and everyone that has been here and now move it back to the running backs, I know where these guys are blocking, I know the protections. I understand that. Now it's my turn to take these guys in the backfield, push them a step further, teach them how to pick up behind an offensive line that I have been working with."