Former Auburn assistant coach Tracy Rocker couldn’t turn down another chance to coach in the NFL.
Rocker spoke to media Wednesday via Zoom about his decision to leave Auburn after 13 days to become the defensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rocker explained leaving Auburn – where he was a star defensive lineman in the late 1980s and already had one coaching stint in 2009-2010 – was difficult given his history with the Tigers but added that jobs like the one in Philadelphia are hard to come by.
“The decision is always tough because that’s somewhere I got my degree, had a great career there and [there’s] a lot of great people,” Rocker said. “This is one of the ultimate jobs out there at the highest level of football, so it was a very easy decision to make.”
Rocker was set to join Bryan Harsin’s staff before returning to the NFL, where he coached with the Tennessee Titans from 2011-13. The majority of the former Lombardi and Outland Trophy winner’s coaching career has been spent in college football — specifically in the SEC, where he’s had stops at Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
While Rocker has mostly coached at the collegiate level, he said he has a sense of the biggest difference between coaching there and coaching in the pros.
“I think the shift is that in college you get kids at a lot younger age, and it’s a bit more developmental growth – not just on the field but off the field. Now when you [are] in the NFL, we assume that they know everything because we gave them money,” Rocker said. “I think it requires a little bit more of a conversation about – which we have in place in the NFL – of rookie development. That’s in place, but as a coach I feel like my job is to approach every day the same way and try to help them improve their game so that they can be successful.”
Rocker is part of a new Philadelphia coaching staff that is taking over a team that went 4-11-1 in 2020. The Eagles’ defense was 19th in yards allowed and 15th in passing yards allowed while registering the third-most sacks in the NFL last fall. The team was led in sacks by defensive end Brandon Graham, who ended the year with eight.
Even at 55 years old with 27 years of coaching in college and in the pros under his belt, Rocker is still all ears when it comes to learning the best way to go about his duties with the Eagles.
“As a coach, I’m not going to sit here and say that my way is always the right way, but I’m always willing to learn from others. In this game, it’s called coaches being coached,” Rocker said. I don’t know all the answers, and I’m not going to – if you walk in and think you do, we all have to go out and find out.