It's been 13 years since Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud saw George Edwards on a daily basis when Buffalo's defensive coordinator was his position coach at Georgia. But time hasn't changed the impression that Edwards left on him as a coach.
"Coach 'E' is definitely a great coach," Stroud told Buffalobills.com. "From my time with him at Georgia and all the guys that I know down in Miami that have been with him they have respect for him. He's got that aggressive attitude that we need on the defensive side. I think he'll be a good fit."
Stroud is referring to Dolphins players that were under Edwards' tutelage as he most recently served as Miami's linebackers coach from 2005-2009. Miami LB Channing Crowder who has a pair of 100 tackles seasons in his time under Edwards raved about his now former position coach.
"Coach Edwards is one of the best assistants in the NFL," Crowder told the Orlando Sentinel last month. "He has had a huge impact on me and I looked up to him like a father."
In describing the kind of demeanor Edwards has as a coach, Stroud says Buffalo's defensive coordinator doesn't rant and rave, but gets his message across effectively.
"He's not a big rah-rah guy," Stroud said. "He's definitely the kind of coach that demands the best, but he's not going to do it by yelling and cursing out there. He will demand excellence though and you better do what you have to do as a player."
Stroud believes one of Edwards' greatest strengths as a coach is having his players prepared for an opponent and their specific matchups in a game.
"He was effective in motivating me to make sure I'd go out there and get it done right," Stroud said.
He calls Edwards a straight shooter, a coach that will make it clear where you stand with him. And where Stroud may very well be standing is in the middle of Buffalo's defense as a two-gap nose tackle in Edwards' 3-4 defensive scheme.
In a team statement Edwards said he intends to start “from a 3-4 alignment” though he did leave the door open to adapt and adjust to player strengths. So there's a chance that Buffalo's defense is a 3-4 hybrid knowing a fair amount of the current personnel under contract is built for a 4-3 system. As far as Stroud is concerned he'll accept whatever assignment is given to him.
"If that's what I've got to do then I'll do it," Stroud told Buffalobills.com. "I really think I can play the end position, but whatever I need to do, whatever I can do to help us I'm going to do it. I know I can play the five-technique (defensive end in 3-4), but I know I can go inside in the middle and mix it up also."
Stroud played hurt for most of the 2009 season with ankle, shoulder and back ailments slowing him down through the course of the year. He intends to come back in prime physical condition for the 2010 campaign.
"I got a chance to get healthy this offseason and when I come up there I'm going to be about 300 pounds and be in the best shape of my career," he said.
Edwards is no doubt hoping that's the case as the roster is currently lacking true two-gap nose tackles, though this year's draft class has uncommon depth at the defensive tackle position.
So although there might be some uncertainty as to where Stroud will ultimately lines up, the defensive tackle is confident that Buffalo's defense is in very capable hands.
"I've been with him and I know what he coaches works. He helped develop me into a good player," said Stroud. "When I was playing under him I made the All-SEC freshman team so I can't do anything but buy into what he'll be selling because I've seen it work before.
"I definitely think everyone is going to be satisfied with him. It's going to be a hard-nosed approach I can guarantee you that."