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Better Know a Jaguars Coach pt 3. Kennedy Pola(malu)

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Jacksonville Jaguars Running Backs Coach Kennedy Pola

Kennedy Pola

Kennedy Pola

Running Backs; born November 22, 1963, Pago, Pago, American Samoa. Fullback Southern California 1982-85. No pro playing experience. College coach: UCLA 1992-93, San Diego State 1994-96, Colorado 1997-98, San Diego State 1999, Southern California 2000-2003. Pro coach: Cleveland Browns 2004, joined Jaguars in 2005.

Kennedy Pola

Pola is in his third season with Jacksonville after spending his first NFL season with the Browns. In 2006, his second season, the Jaguars set a single season franchise record for rushing yards (2,541) and averaged just short of 160 yards.

Kennedy comes from good football stock. To start, his nephew is Troy Polamalu, a first round pick of our hated rival... Pittsburgh... If you're wondering, yes, Pola shortened his name from Polamalu after arriving in America to decrease pronunciation issues. Troy credits his uncle as having a large impact on his life.

Polamalu, the Steelers' three-time Pro Bowl safety, grew up in a football-playing family in which a half-dozen close relatives played in college or in the NFL. Among them is uncle Kennedy Pola, one of the most influential people in his life and, now, Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach.

Troy is a hall of fame quality guy on and off the field.  It says a lot about Pola's character and football knowledge that Troy would credit him as most influential among his whole football playing family.

Pola knows football, plain and simple. He's coached numerous positions including Running Backs, Linebackers, and special teams. He was a RB.  This is a guy some people even have their eye on for a more prominent role. That's the NFL though; it's a game of replacement not only in terms of players, but also quality coaches.

Pola coached one of the greatest college RB's in history, Reggie Bush and accomplished an even greater feat in keeping the teettering on obese LenDale White motivated and competitive.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio has plenty of praise for Pola's work with the running backs. Fred Taylor is coming off three consecutive 100-yard games and Jacksonville's average of 143.8 yards rushing per game is second in the league.

"I trust Kennedy Pola to manage the process for us," Del Rio said. "He had a little experience with it dealing with Reggie Bush and LenDale White at Southern Cal. He came here ... and he has done a great job with that group and has created a competitive atmosphere and the guys really challenge each other - but they always keep the team first."

It's all about keeping a ‘team first’ mentality. Much credit must be given to the ever-so-eloquent Maurice Jones-Drew for the way he approached Fred Taylor, a proud individual and the starter when Jones-Drew arrived. That could have turned into a tumultuous situation were it not for solid coaching and Maurice's character. Kennedy should be given some credit for the lightning quick progression of Maurice into the Jaguars running game.

 

Kennedy is also responsible for coaching our fullback(s). Let's examine Greg Jones. We all remember (vividly) that play which knocked out Jones' knee at a point where it was looking like he would be the Jags future at tailback. That changed his and Fred Taylor's fortune forever. Fred went on to have a resurgence in his career and Jones was forced to learn a new trade... lead blocking. Thankfully he had a good teacher in Pola who has presided over his progression to his current pro bowl form.

 

Pola is getting recognition all over the league. Earlier this year the Jaguars denied the Titans the right to interview Pola for a position with their organization. My guess, they were hoping he could once again do what he did at USC and what they were failing at... motivating Lendale White.

 

A sports writer who I'm a big fan of, Michael David Smith , even puts Pola on his short list for head coaching candidates in his series "Meet Your 2008 Head Coaching Candidates. "  Below is his assessment of Pola's positives.

 

Pros: Everywhere he's been, the running backs have looked well-coached, and players who have worked with him are just about universal in their praise.

Pola is obviously seen around league circles as an effective teacher and excellent motivator. He has clearly peaked the interest of other teams around the league.

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