Bills' new D-line coach won't pull any punches - The Buffalo News

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Bills' new D-line coach won't pull any punches

Members of the Buffalo Bills' defensive line are in for the rudest of awakenings.

Mike Waufle, hired Saturday by new head coach Sean McDermott to guide the Bills' D-line, doesn't speak so much as bark when it comes to communicating with the players in his position group. He doesn't cajole so much as threaten.

Do things his way, or be ready for a fight. Not an exchange of angry words, but punches. The man is always ready and willing to throw down if necessary.

Sure, Waufle's 62 years old and some of the players he coaches are almost 40 years younger. He doesn't care. Waufle is an ex-Marine with zero tolerance for insubordination. He has even less than that for incompetence.

Just ask the Los Angeles Rams' defensive linemen he coached for the past five seasons. Or the Oakland Raiders' and New York Giants' D-linemen he led during the 14 seasons before that.

The most recent edition of the HBO series "Hard Knocks" provided an eye-opening look at Waufle's coaching methods -- and the No. 1 highlight of all of the weekly installments -- when it followed the Rams through training camp last summer.

This is a sample of Waufle's salty dissertation during his first meeting with the Rams' defensive linemen: "Don't (expletive) challenge me. I don't want any (expletive). I don't want any (expletive) body language. When I say, 'Jump!' you say, 'How (expletive) high?' We're going to (expletive) work.

"You can probably (expletive) me up. Have a good time trying to do it. I ain't scared.

"We destroy things. We are nasty. We have a chip on our shoulders. We want to (expletive) you up."

Mike Waufle's 2009 head shot while coaching with the New York Giants. (NFL Photos)

Can you imagine the look on Marcell Dareus' face after hearing such a speech? He would never hesitate to complain publicly about Rex Ryan's defense being too complicated or forcing him to drop into coverage rather than rush the passer.

What will he have to say about Waufle's drill-sergeant routine?

And what sort of appetite is 33-year-old Kyle Williams going to have to return for a 12th NFL season knowing that he'll be dealing with arguably the sternest position coach he has ever had in his pro career?

Regardless, Waufle does represent a significant change in the approach to coaching the Bills had in the previous two seasons on the ultra-loose ship captained by Ryan. He subscribes to a militaristic style that was the polar opposite of what most of the players, especially on defense, have seen since 2015.

Perhaps that is also part of why the defense slipped from fourth in the NFL in 2014 to 19th the past two seasons, and allowed three 200-yard rushers for the first time in franchise history in 2016.

Waufle, who was born in Hornell, joined the Marines when he was 17. His four-year stint made a profound impact on his life.

"I consistently refer to (the Marines), and I strongly believe in the principles outlined in it," Waufle was quoted as saying in a profile the Marines did on him while he was coaching with the Raiders. "I know how important it is to lead by example through work ethic and consistency. I believe in treating people with respect, and I'm not afraid to challenge my players."

After leaving the Marines, he concentrated on getting his college degree and enrolled at Utah State. He began his coaching career in 1979 as a defensive line coach at Alfred University. From 1980 to 1984, he coached defensive backs, offensive line, and defensive line at Utah State.

Waufle went onto to coach the defensive lines at Fresno State (1985-88), UCLA (1989), Oregon State (1990-91), and Cal (1992-97) before breaking into the NFL with the Raiders in 1998.

He began establishing a name for himself with the Giants, guiding a line on which Hall-of-Famer Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora put up historic sack totals. Waufle's line combined for five sacks and a forced fumble in the Giants' victory against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

He has also did highly impressive work with the Rams' defensive line, helping that unit rank among the league's sack leaders every season since his arrival in 2012.

Waufle left an indelible mark on the Rams, as this narration from "Hard Knocks" illustrates: "The Rams' defensive line is their best unit. It's led by former Marine Mike Waufle. He'll coach you up or knock you out. Your choice."

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