Cleveland Browns defensive line coach Anthony Weaver soaked up every moment of his NFL career, particularly with the Baltimore Ravens. Weaver was a fierce rotational defensive lineman under Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan's masterminded defenses.
The Ravens were the standard for defense for more than a decade in the NFL. Starting 57 games in four seasons alongside Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, Weaver portrays a passion for greatness more so than most professional football players.
"The game had been so good to me," Weaver recalled of his eight year career. "I always knew I wanted to remain a part of it, and in sense, kind of pay it forward. I have been blessed to have a lot of good coaches. I wanted to take bits and pieces of all of them and share it with some of these younger guys."
Weaver met Pettine during his rookie season in Baltimore, back in 2002. Weaver said it was Pettine's immense knowledge of football and individual tutelage as reasons why he wanted to coach. Weaver still calls Pettine his mentor, but the two are also close friends.
Turning the Browns into a staple NFL franchise is a fuel in Weaver's belly that won't go away until the mission is complete.
"I want to do whatever I can do to not only help the Cleveland Browns succeed, but to see Mike Pettine succeed," said Weaver. "I know how long he's wanted this opportunity. And now that he has it, I'm not here to see him fail."
It's now Weaver's duty to elevate the play of the Browns' big boys up front, a task that will generate wins if executed properly.
He's not a yeller and screamer. And he'll treat each player with the utmost respect. But Weaver will set high standards for his defensive lineman. His unit will be expected to meet individual expectations which Weaver creates for them. And those expectations will be sky-high. Weaver considers his job as a motivator to be as important as technique and fundamentals.
"In this profession, as a player, confidence is so important," Weaver said. "Without that, I don't think you stand a chance. I want my guys to go out there on Sunday's and feel like Superman. I want them to feel like there is no offensive lineman in the world that can block them."
The Cleveland Browns will be playing a hybrid 3-4 defense. The pass rush from that type of defense is generally predicated on bull-rushing outside linebackers.
That's wasn't the case with Mike Pettine's scheme with the Buffalo Bills in 2013.
A whopping 31 of the Bills franchise record 57 sacks came from three players: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. These starting defensive lineman terrorized offensive lines and dismantled quarterbacks. Weaver gave his Bills players that 'Superman confidence' he speaks about.
In 2013, lineman Phil Taylor, Desmond Bryant, John Hughes, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn combined for 10.5 total sacks. That number has to be increased if the Browns want to become a top-notch defense. Winning the battle in the trenches is a formula for more wins.
"Technique is the biggest thing for me. But when I think about it, it's really just football. We have to just work hard and listen to Coach Weaver," said John Hughes.
Weaver, like most of the assistants with the Browns, is young. The 33-year-old has an energy to him that's translating on the field and in the meeting rooms.
"He is a competitor and you can tell he wants to win real, real bad," said Ahtyba Rubin. "He's getting everyone amped up. He really understands how we feel from a player's standpoint."
"It's always good to have a young d-line coach," said Hughes. "He knows exactly what you are going through."
Weaver's youth, determination, friendship with Coach Pettine and experience as a member of the Raven's vaunted defenses of the early 2000's seem like a recipe brewing for success here in Cleveland.