Joe Jacoby says he owes his career to late OL coach Joe Bugel

Ethan Cadeaux
NBC Sports Washington

During the offensive tackle's 13-year career with Washington, Joe Jacoby made the Pro Bowl four times and was named to the first-team All-Pro squad three times. Many fans of the Burgundy and Gold believe he is more than deserving of a Hall of Fame bust in Canton.

But without one person, Jacoby says, his career never would have been as successful. That would be former Redskins assistant and offensive line coach Joe Bugel, who died on Sunday at age 80.

"My [career] wouldn't be possible without Joe Bugel in my life, and how he was influential and what I turned out to be as a football player," Jacoby told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay on the latest edition of the Redskins Talk podcast. "It's all because of Buges."

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Bugel joined the Redskins staff in 1981 under head coach Joe Gibbs and remained an assistant for Washington through the 1989 season. During Bugel's eight-year run with Washington, he earned himself the reputation as one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. Behind the "Hogs," Washington saw both running backs John Riggins and George Rogers each top 1,000 yards twice.

Jacoby was an integral part of the "Hogs," the nickname used to describe Washington's dominant offensive line during the 1980s. Redskins offensive linemen Russ Grimm, Mark May, Jeff Bostic and Jacoby combined for 10 Pro Bowl selections during that span, which featured Super Bowl victories in 1982 and 1987.

"I think every guy on that line that I played with for the nine or 10 years that Buges was with us, that had to be influenced by his ability to work on those strengths and weaknesses we all had," Jacoby said.

When asked what made Bugel such a successful coach, Jacoby said it was largely due to how much emphasis the coach would put on having his linemen display proper footwork.

"Buges probably would have been a good dance instructor the way he taught offensive line play," Jacoby said.

Jacoby said Bugel would not worry about the group's physicality, as he knew the "Hogs" would have no problem demonstrating their toughness. The coach also gave the group a pretty cool nickname for when they were all working together in unison.

"It didn't matter the physical aspect, because [he would say] 'I know you guys are going to be physical, but our feet lead us to being successful and having great blocks,'" Jacoby said. "That's what we worked on. He used to call us the Rockettes of the NFL because of our footwork. When we watched film, if the play was going right, everyone's first step was with their right foot. That's what he strived off of."

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Another factor that made Bugel such a good coach, according to Jacoby, was the fact that he "knew what buttons to push on each one of us."

Bugel also had no issue getting on his player's cases, either. While the coach himself wasn't very big, he was not intimidated at all by his offensive linemen that were almost double his size.

"His language and his methods, probably in this day and age, would be unorthodox," Jacoby said. 

However, the former offensive tackle was quick to say that Bugel would always be one of the first guys to celebrate with the offensive line when they did things well.

"In this day and age, I can't see him berating somebody with the language that Buges used," Jacoby said. "He would be the individual to do that, but five, six plays later, he'd be the first one out there hugging you, jumping on your neck, just elated because that was the perfect play and all. Many times, I've walked off that field and he has his arm around me, telling me he loved me. He knew what to do and how to do it, and knew the right time to do it."

While it's been over three decades since the "Hogs" were dominating opposing defensive lines, Bugel's impact as a coach still is prevalent in the NFL today.

"I speak to line coaches now, and they look at what we did back in the 80s," Jacoby said. "That's what they want because of the toughness, the physical toughness, the mental toughness to overcome and be successful. It carries on today."

And while Bugel hasn't been Jacoby's boss for that same amount of time, the tackle's former coach still impacts his life on a day-to-day basis.

"I look back on it, and he has so much of an influence on how I run my everyday life as far as the things he taught me and as far as the things he said and did," Jacoby said. "He was a pleasure to be coached by. He's a friend, a mentor and I loved him dearly."

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Joe Jacoby says he owes his career to late OL coach Joe Bugel originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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