Sitting at a desk filled with paperwork, Falcons secondary coach Tim Lewis has had little time to decorate his new office in Flowery Branch. The lone splash of color comes from a large monitor that — when not filled with game film — displays an image of his three smiling children.
It’s been just more than two weeks since the team hired him to fill an empty spot on the coaching staff and his family hasn’t moved to Georgia yet.
But he’s no stranger to Atlanta.
Lewis, a 15-year veteran of NFL coaching, has a sister in the city. His father-in-law also lives in the are and his brother, Will, served as an assistant coach under June Jones with the Falcons in 1995 and 1996. You may also remember Lewis’ name floating around the media during the team’s head coaching search in 2004.
Before that, Lewis was a player for the Green Bay Packers that made trips to Fulton Co. Stadium. He had an earlier connection with Atlanta after watching former Falcons player and coach Billy “White Shoes” Johnson play college at what is now Widener University.
“When I was a little kid playing Pop Warner football every Saturday morning we’d play our games then we had to hustle to get everyone together to go down and watch my cousin play ball with Billy White Shoes,” Lewis said. “I’d sometimes go in my uniform.”
The coach was caught off guard by the dynamic receiver and return man during one visit to Atlanta. Johnson pulled him aside after a play in a Packers-Falcons game and asked if he was the child that once watched him play.
“That was really wild,” Lewis said. “I would never guess he would remember me. I hadn’t seen him since I was a Pop Warner player.”
Ultimately, Lewis’ time as a player was cut short with injury.
After work in college, he moved to the NFL and coached for the Steelers (1995-2003), Giants (2004-2006) and the Panthers (2007-2008). Lewis was defensive coordinator for the Steelers from 2000-2003 and Giants from 2004-2006. In 2000, his Steelers defense ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense. The group led the league in that category in 2001. In New York, Lewis led a 2005 defense that didn’t allow a touchdown in more than 15 quarters (more on that tomorrow on AtlantaFalcons.com).
Lewis familiarity with Atlanta will come in handy in looking for a place to live and catching up with family and friends but he knows he’s on his own in digesting the piles of paperwork and reviews on his desk. He was spending his lunch break Wednesday learning the Falcons defensive scheme and finishing reviews on the team’s 2009 defensive backs.
He said he’ll get to know his players soon but wants to start coaching them from the first encounter.
“It’s a great process,” he said. “It’s always exciting when you’re learning something new and meeting new players. I figured I would wait to contact them until I had something of substance to say to them — other than introducing myself.”