Early NFL days
After spending the first eight years of his coaching career in college at USC, Northern Arizona, and Miami of Ohio, Zampese broke into the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was hired to be a part of Ray Rhodes’ staff and followed him to the Green Bay Packers in 1999 after the Eagles and Rhodes parted ways following a disappointing season.
In Philadelphia, Zampese was part of a staff that featured Sean Payton as the team’s quarterbacks coach. In Green Bay, Mike McCarthy filled that role. The exposure to these men, who turned into two of the NFL’s best coaches during the mid-2000s through the mid-2010s and in Payton’s case, beyond, had a big impact on Zampese and clearly helped teach him how to get through to quarterbacks.
During the ’99 season in Green Bay, the Packers provided him a glimpse at how to develop quarterbacks effectively. The team had Brett Favre in the prime of his career as the starter, but behind the scenes, the staff worked with sixth-round pick Matt Hasselbeck and set the foundation for him to become a quality starter later in his career. Fourth-round pick Aaron Brooks was a part of the quarterback room as well, and he did the same as he looked to develop. So, it was a deep group that featured many players with differing styles.
After his one-year stint with the Packers, Zampese would join the Rams coaching staff as an offensive assistant and eventually became the team’s passing game coordinator in 2002. He got to see Kurt Warner running Mike Martz’s “Greatest Show on Turf” and, once again, saw what it was like to work with a couple of talented quarterbacks behind the scenes. Marc Bulger and Trent Green backed up Warner but would go on to earn starting jobs during the 2000s.
These formative NFL years were instrumental in Zampese’s development as a quality NFL-level quarterbacks coach. He got exposure to some of the league’s best offensive minds and was able to learn how to work with quality quarterbacks and which players best fit each system that was run.
And that’s part of the reason he was able to find success in developing NFL passers once he earned the role of quarterbacks coach with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003.