In the next installment of our “Coach ’em Up” series, we profile first year running backs coach Skip Peete.
Peete’s brother, Rodney, was an NFL quarterback for 16 years while his father, Willie, served as the Bears’ running backs coach from 1995-1997 before becoming one of the team’s scouts. Skip was an All-Big Eight wide receiver in 1985 as a Kansas Jayhawk before spending a year with the New York Jets in 1987.
Following his stint as a player, Peete was a graduate assistant from 1988-1990 at the University of Pittsburgh. From there, he served as the team’s running back coach from 1991-1992, spending his final two seasons coaching future Hall of Fame rCurtis Martin. Peete then took over as the receivers coach at Michigan State where he helped develop former NFL greats Muhsin Muhammad and Derrick Mason; after a one year stint at Rutgers, he moved onto UCLA as the running back’s coach. In two seasons as a member of the Bruins’ staff, Peete coached Skip Hicks to back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons and 20 plus touchdowns.
He then accepted an offer to coach the running backs for the Raiders from 1998-2006, guiding the likes of Tyrone Wheatley and LaMont Jordan to career high rushing totals with 1,046 yards in 2000 and 1,025 in 2005, respectively; Oakland’s 154.4 rushing yards per game in 2000 are the ninth most in franchise history. In 2002, Charlie Garner’s 962 yards were the third most in his career while he set a new career standard with seven touchdowns; he also hauled in an astonishing 91 receptions for 941 yards and four touchdowns, all career highs. After his stint in Oakland, Peete coached the backs in Dallas from 2007-2012 where Marion Barber set career highs in rushing yards (975) and touchdowns (10) en route to his first Pro Bowl selection (2007). The Cowboy’s 4.8 yards per game in 2009 eclipsed the franchise’s former season high.
Peete’s hiring is extremely intriguing considering his body of work: Barber, Wheatley, Jordan, and Garner weren’t exactly star runners, but he turned them into valuable offensive weapons before their collective number of carriers decreased. Regardless, he headed two different groups that turned in productive seasons. Peete has shown the ability to turn his running backs into solid pass catchers and a desire to develop them into effective pass blockers, aspects that will take Todd Gurley’s game to incredible heights. Having him for all 16 games provides a perfect marriage of sorts as Peete offers high-end coaching experience. With Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason behind him, there is reason to believe Peete can replicate the unit success he had in Oakland and Dallas