PHILADELPHIA, Penn. -- Late to bed, early to rise, such is the life of an assistant coach in the National Football League.

One night, former North Middlesex athletic director and alum, Mike Dawson, received a call immediately following a boys' basketball game at the high school.

On the other end of the phone was former Oregon Ducks mastermind-turned-Philadelphia-Eagles-head-coach, Chip Kelly.

Kelly called to offer Dawson, his old assistant at the University of New Hampshire, an NFL coaching job. Dawson notes, however, that there are differences between coaching professionals and collegiate players.

"The difference between this and college football is that this is a full-time job for them," Dawson said. "You are with the guys, pretty much, throughout the day. We will get in as a staff and have our first meeting around 7 a.m., and then the players will get in and get ready around 9 a.m."

Dawson, overcome with excitement, called North Middlesex Superintendent Joan Landers and told her the news.

"I tried to help in any way I could before I got out of there," Dawson said. "I left on pretty short notice. Joan Landers was great to me. I really appreciate how she handled everything. ...She is doing a great job, and I have really appreciated the relationship I have had with her, for sure."

Fast forward to Dawson's new gig as defensive quality control coach. In the NFL, there are really no off days.


It is not uncommon for Dawson to be elbow-deep in binders upon binders of scouting reports on the week's opponent.

Dawson works predominately with both the inside and outside linebackers, providing them with formation breakdowns.

"At about noontime we will practice," Dawson said. "That usually goes for about two hours. We will come back and we do a lot with sports science here. Our guys will rest and recover. Then we will meet and go over film before they go home for the evening."

Dawson and the Eagles' coaching staff's day does not end once the players exit the complex. They burn the midnight oil, preparing for the next day's practice. And, they are back at the grind at 7 a.m., sharp, the next morning.

"It isn't too much extra compared to the college side of things," Dawson said. "I think at college you are there for the same amount of time, maybe even more, because recruiting is such a factor. I don't think time-wise it is more or less than the college guys. It's a little bit different having the players around a lot more."

When the Pepperell native and his family packed their bags for Philadelphia, it was not as hard as one might think.

"Philadelphia is a great town," he said. "Anytime you move, it's difficult. This move was a little of 'you are leaving the area where you grew up,' but at the same time, you are coming down to a pretty great city. The people down here in Philadelphia have been great. We are getting adjusted pretty well."

Dawson has not forgotten his roots. He is still in close contact with current North Middlesex head football coach Sandy Ruggles and Oscar Hills.

"I will always stay close with coach Ruggles," he said. "Coach and I have been close since I was probably 14 years old. So, I don't think that relationship will change. He has certainly wished me luck down here on a couple of occasions.

"We have talked about some other things," he added. "I try to keep tabs on how those guys are doing."

Eagles fans are known around football circles as being some of the most rowdy in the league.

"Eagles fans are awesome," Dawson said. "The Eagles fans are intelligent. Not only are they passionate about it, they know what's going on, and they are going to tell you like it is. You want to be somewhere where it matters. Hopefully, I can do my part to help make the Eagles as good as they can be."

When in Philadelphia, eat what the Philadelphians eat. Dawson is not afraid to admit that he is a fan of a good old-fashioned Philly cheesesteak. It doesn't matter if it is Geno's or Pat's House of Steaks.

"There's a bunch of great cheesesteak places," he said. "Anyone who has ever seen me knows that I am never going to shy away from having a cheesesteak. That's for sure."