Category Archives: Assistant Coaches interview

THE 2014 LINEBACKER BATTLE: Dallas Cowboys linebackers competing for starting spots | 2014 Dallas Cowboys roster

Bruce Carter #54 and Sean Lee #50 of the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys walk down the tunnel to play San Diego Chargers

IRVING, Texas – A year ago at this time, the Dallas Cowboys linebacker corps seemed set in stone. With OTAs a week away and training camp on the horizon, that’s anything but the case in 2014.

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CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Monte Kiffin’s role has changed, but the Dallas Cowboys defense is in good hands | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

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Monte Kiffin doesn’t hold the title of Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator anymore, but he’s as fired up as ever. Just ask him.

“I’m really excited. I’m really fired up,” Kiffin said. “I’m not down one bit. I’m really not. I can’t coach that way. I wouldn’t stay here. If I didn’t feel right, if I knew I wasn’t going to contribute, and it wasn’t going to be a good situation, I promise you I would have moved on. I like it here. I like the head coach. But Rod Marinelli is the guy.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD - Monte Kiffin’s role has changed, but the Dallas Cowboys defense is in good hands - 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff c

Kiffin was hired a little over a year ago to oversee the team’s transition from the 3-4 to the Tampa Two 4-3 style (commonly referred to as the Texas-2 Defense on this site).

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THE TOUGH-LOVE DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli focused on teaching | Dallas Cowboys rookie mini-camp 2014

THE TOUGH-LOVE DEFENSE - Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli focused on teaching - Dallas Cowboys rookie mini-camp 2014

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli: Time For Teaching | 2:54 | Rod Marinelli talks about why it’s an important time for teaching instead of competition. He also talks about where he could envision Tyrone Crawford playing on the defensive line. (Watch | Listen)


Former Marine, and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s not into nursing anyone’s confidence, or lack thereof.

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INSIDE THE 2014 PLAYBOOK: Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sees strength in running | More deep shots downfield will stretch defenses

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Tony Romo under center

Scott Linehan is known for directing pass-heavy offenses. During his previous five seasons as Detroit’s offensive coordinator, no team threw the ball more. Over those 80 games, the Lions averaged 40.7 pass attempts per game, four more than the Dallas Cowboys averaged during that time.

So, it was somewhat surprising to hear the new Dallas Cowboys offensive play-caller talking on the radio about how Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray and the Dallas running game would be the team’s strength this season.

“Things that were done last year in the running game with DeMarco, the running style that was created here is really a good fit,” Linehan said recently on 105.3 The Fan. “That’s going to be our strength, being able to lean on that running game a little bit more than the past.

“Obviously, with this offensive line, this is going to be something that’s going to help our passing game. The looks that Dez [Bryant] started to get as the year went on, people started giving him the attention that Calvin [Johnson] and Randy Moss would get as far as getting those double coverage’s. You need to have those other facets of your offense as far as your running game.”

Linehan also mentioned how an increased emphasis on running the ball could lead to the Cowboys using a fullback more often than they did in 2013.

Four-year veteran Tyler Clutts is the only fullback on Dallas’ current roster. LSU fullback J.C. Copeland was one of 24 undrafted free agents signed Tuesday by the Cowboys. Copeland was considered one of the top blocking fullbacks in college football.

“The No. 1 goal, and I told Jason [Garrett] this when I came here, is to keep a lot of things the same,” Linehan said. “It’s a lot easier for the players to not have to change how they call things. To the naked eye, they’ll be similar.

“I just want to be an asset and bring some ideas that maybe haven’t been implemented that I can add to current things that were done well in the systems I’ve been around.

“Jason and I have a good background. … There are a lot of similarities. It’s just the language. I just basically made the commitment to transfer over what I’ve called things, the way people call things to keep it consistent for the players so they can step on the field and be ready to go from the get-go of OTAs.”

Historically, the Dallas Cowboys’ new offensive play-caller has never been afraid to stretch a defense by taking deep shots downfield.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Dez Bryant scores on play-action pass

He did it with Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss. Expect him to do the same with Dez Bryant in Dallas.

“That’s a big part of what I grew up in or believe in,” Linehan recently said. “It’s going to be our philosophy to do those kinds of things maybe a little more. I think we have the personnel for it, for sure. It’s a way to get people backed up a little bit and also create big plays.

“Everybody says it’s a low percentage play. Depending on the look, it’s a high percentage play, as long as you got weapons on the outside part of the field. I really believe we have that. We also have some big targets with our tight ends. Having the talent, the speed and the length we have at our skill positions I think it’s something you got to implement, and that really helps open up things for your running game as well.”

Going deep wasn’t a large part of the Dallas Cowboys offensive attack in 2013. Tony Romo ranked 17th in the NFL last season in pass attempts of 21 or more air yards.

“One of the most intriguing things for me coming here was we got some great weapons on offense,” Linehan said. “Obviously we’ve built a heck of an offensive line. Tony’s a proven player that I’ve always been a big fan of throughout his career. We’ve got a pretty decent receiver [Bryant] and a pretty decent tight end [Jason Witten]. Those guys are pretty good.”

Linehan then mentioned the upside he sees in second-year receiving targets Terrance Williams and Gavin Escobar.

Williams played in all 16 games, starting eight as the team’s No. 2 receiver last season. The third-round pick caught 44 passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns. Escobar, a second-round pick, was used sparingly, catching nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns from the tight end position.

“The Escobar kid … is a guy that’s kind of somewhat untapped at this point,” Linehan said. “It’s not because he doesn’t have the ability to do it. We really liked him [in Detroit] last year coming out in the draft. I followed him when he came here. Now that I’m working with him, I’m really excited to see what he can do for us, too

RIDING INTO THE SUNSET: Dallas Cowboys Special Teams assistant coach Chris Boniol moving on

RIDING INTO THE SUNSET - Dallas Cowboys Special Teams assistant coach Chris Boniol moving on - Dallas Cowboys coaches

IRVING, Texas – Every offseason has some sort of coaching change and the first one for the Dallas Cowboys this year involves the special teams unit.

And it’s not Rich Bisaccia, the special teams coordinator who has interviewed for two head coaching jobs already.

But his assistant Chris Boniol, a former Dallas Cowboys place-kicker from 1994-96, said he will not return to the coaching staff for 2014.

On Wednesday, Boniol confirmed the Cowboys will not renew Boniol’s contract, which expired last week after he signed a one-year contract to work with Bisaccia before last season. Boniol joined the Cowboys’ staff in 2010 when he worked under then-special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.

“It’s a mutual agreement,” Boniol said Wednesday. “Everything has gone great the last four years. It’s just time for me to move on. It’s been a good run.”

Boniol said he leaves the organization on nothing but good terms. Boniol said he was especially grateful for the way the Cowboys brought him back last offseason when his contract had expired.

“They really, on my behalf, went to bat to keep me around, which I’m extremely grateful for,” Boniol said, mentioning Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett. “They’ve been extremely generous and supportive. Just fantastic to me and my career development. I had a real good talk with Jason … he’s a good one.”

The Cowboys are coming off another banner season for kicker Dan Bailey, who ended 2013 with 21 straight field goals, including a game-winner against the Giants in late November.

Bailey was 28 of 30 on field goals in 2013, a percentage of .933 that ranked fourth in the NFL. Bailey made six of his seven attempts of 50 yards or more.

Bailey also improved his kickoffs in 2013, ranking tied for fourth in the NFL with 52.

Punter Chris Jones ranked 19th in the NFL with a 45.0 yard punting average. His 39.1 yard net average was good for 20th.

“You can ask anyone around the league – both of those guys – Dan and Chris,” Boniol said of his two kickers from last year. “You’d have a hard time finding better guys at their position. And you’re going to have a hard time finding guys that are that disciplined that have matured athletically and professionally like they have, the last few years. I’m real proud of them. They’ve really grown into true professionals.”

As for Boniol, who owns the Dallas Cowboys record for consecutive field goals made of 27 straight, set in 1996, he said his plan is to continue coaching in the NFL and he’s hoping it will be in a similar role, although becoming a special teams coordinator is a personal goal down the road.

“My long-term goal, that’s always a possibility,” Boniol said of becoming a special teams coach. “However right now, my role that is most important to me is to be an assistant special teams coach in charge of developing young kickers and punters. That’s my gift, that’s really my best role right now for me as an individual.”

SNIDER’S SNIFFING AROUND: Dallas Cowboys ST coach Rich Bisaccia interviewing for Washington Redskins head coaching position

Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia - 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaches

IRVING, Texas – The Washington Redskins search for a new head coach will go through the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff.

Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is interviewing for the vacancy in Washington, where he’s got history with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen dating back to their time together in Tampa Bay.

Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia - 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

The Washington Redskins asked for permission to speak with Bisaccia and were granted by the Cowboys. NFL rules state that teams must allow all assistant coaches to interview for a vacant head coaching position. Teams can block assistants under contract to meet with other teams for any other coaching position.

Bisaccia coached primarily special teams while working with the Buccaneers from 2002-10. After working with special teams from 2002-07, he then added the responsibilities of associate head coach and running backs in 2008 before spending his last two seasons as the associate head coach and special teams coach.

He then coached the San Diego Chargers special teams units for two seasons, adding assistant head coaching duties in 2012, prior to a brief stint in January 2013 at Auburn. The Tigers allowed Bisaccia to return to the professional ranks and go to the Dallas Cowboys, where he replaced former special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, who’s now in Chicago.

Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia - 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff - Instrumental in development of Dwayne Harris and Dan Bailey

Head coach Jason Garrett always preaches the necessity to be good in all three phases of the game, and one could easily make the argument special teams was the team’s best phase this season. Dwayne Harris ranked in the top three in the league in both kick return and punt return average, and Dan Bailey’s leg strength increased while his pinpoint accuracy stayed consistent.

Bisaccia had a lot of familiarity with the coaching staff in Dallas, particularly with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. They all coached together previously in Tampa Bay, and Bisaccia stayed in touch with Marinelli even after the trio left.

In the offseason, Bisaccia recalled a story about going to grab a casual cup of coffee with Marinelli after their time together in Tampa Bay before leaving with two notebooks full of notes after a three-hour visit.

“I’m fortunate to be back with Rod, and certainly be with Monte, but my respect for Rod and the way he coaches on the field and his demeanor and the way he handles his meetings, I’ve learned so much from him,” Bisaccia said in the offseason. “Whatever he said about me, I’m going to try to live up to it. If that’s what I am, then that’s great. I’m going to do that the best I can.”

It’s always been important to Bisaccia to be around coaches and staff members that he knows. Bisaccia spent four years with Marinelli and seven years with Kiffin in Tampa Bay.

“The three of us love football,” he said.” I’ve been married to the same gal for 29 years. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I have ball and I go home. This is my hobby, it’s my passion, it’s a calling to some degree, and really those two guys are the same way.”

Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia - 2013 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff - Interviewing for Washington Redskins head coaching position

Editors note: True Blue’s already know, Daniel Snyder is the owner of the Washington Redskins.

DALLAS COWBOYS GAME 13 PRIMER: Chicago Bears preparing to face former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli

DALLAS COWBOYS GAME 13 PRIMER - Chicago Bears preparing to face former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli

IRVING, Texas – Bears coach Marc Trestman had a decision to make when he replaced Lovie Smith in Chicago. For his part, he wanted to retain Rod Marinelli as the team’s defensive coordinator.

It was an understandable decision. The Bears led the league in takeaways in 2012 with 44, and they finished fifth in total defense. Chicago maintained a fearsome reputation on defense during Marinelli’s four-year stay – one season as defensive line coach, and three as defensive coordinator.

But after a talk with Trestman, Marinelli opted to leave.

“I have tremendous respect for Rod, and I’m sure he would tell you that we had a great conversation, Trestman said. “I laid it all out for him and certainly wanted him to stay. We certainly respected his decision to move on.”

That decision may have had more to do with loyalty than any other issue. Marinelli and Smith both got their NFL starts in 1996 for Tampa Bay, under Tony Dungy and current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. During the Cowboys’ bye week, Marinelli told reporters he had only gone to Chicago to reunite with his close friend.

“I’ll say this – he is one of my very best friends,” Marinelli said of Smith. “I went there because of him, not for any other reason. We had a long tenure together in Tampa, and I just – I believe in him.”

Marinelli added that he feels similarly about Kiffin, which helps explain why he chose to make his way to Dallas after leaving the Bears in January.

“I just think, for me, that was Lovie’s defense,” he said.

In Dallas, Marinelli’s influence as defensive line coach has been hard to miss. With a constantly rotating cast of characters, he has coaxed the Dallas Cowboys to 28 team sacks, including a career-high nine from Jason Hatcher.

“I have so much respect for him. I’ve said that so many times, but I’ll say it again – he’s a special guy. He’s an icon at what he does” Kiffin said. “He isn’t just a defensive line coach — he was a head coach, he was a coordinator. He can be whatever he wants to be.”

That also includes intangibles, in addition to mechanics. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett praised Marinelli’s ability to teach fundamentals, but he said there’s an extra quality to his expertise.

“He also does a good job of coaching the guys emotionally — where your emotions need to be to play this game at a high level,” Garrett said. “I think he does that in practice, he does that in the game. He’s just an awfully good coach. I’ve learned a lot from him.

None of that is to say the Cowboys are dominating statistically. But it wasn’t lost on Trestman that Dallas is one of the best in the league at creating takeaways – which was Chicago’s specialty under Marinelli.

“Their ability to create turnovers has been their number one asset. They’ve got approximately, what, 25 turnovers right now,” Trestman said. “It’s enabled their offense to play on a short field and help them out at times.”

Marinelli’s role isn’t limited to just defensive line, as Kiffin said. It also isn’t limited to the defensive side of the ball. Marinelli’s three-year stint as a head coach in Detroit, which saw the Lions post the NFL’s only winless campaign, gave the veteran some valuable experience to bring to future staffs. 

“He had a tough go in Detroit with the players, and no disrespect to Detroit, but just the whole situation,” Kiffin said. “But this guy – and not just myself — I know the head coach leans on him a lot, too. We all do.”

From one stop to another and on to the Cowboys, that seems fine with Marinelli, who said confidence is key during the highs and lows of a coaching career.

“When I was in Detroit that was a great experience for me, because it’s what I believed in. It didn’t work, but I never lost confidence, I never lost faith – I went to Chicago and kept working,” he said. “If you have a belief and it’s tested, and you crack with that, then it’s not a belief. So you better get a big semi to run over me, and you’d better do it three times.”


Related articles from The Boys Are Back archives:

NO LOVIE IN CHICAGO: Rod Marinelli gave up a chance to be Bears defensive coordinator to reunite with Monte Kiffin

MASTERMINDS REUNITED: Monte Kiffin thrilled to work again with “An Icon” in Rod Marinelli

COACHING ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys sign Rod Marinelli to help teach new defense

AGING KIFFIN ON CAGING GRIFFIN: At 72, this ‘new’ defensive coordinator could bring the ‘Grampa 2 Defense’ to the Dallas Cowboys

POSITIVE CHANGE IN PLAYCALLING: Jason Garrett wanted return to sideline relationship with Tony Romo

POSITIVE CHANGE IN PLAYCALLING: Jason Garrett wanted return to sideline relationship with Tony Romo

Bill Callahan said coach Jason Garrett wanted to return to the relationship he used to have with Tony Romo on the sideline, one reason the Dallas Cowboys changed their play-calling mechanism.

“He’s had that relationship with him on the sideline in his career, and he wanted to get back to that a little bit more,” Callahan said Wednesday in his weekly meeting with reporters. “And he should, and rightfully so, as the head coach.”

Callahan, the offensive coordinator and play-caller, was joined in the coaches box by quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson last week. Wilson used to be on the sideline, receiving the play calls from Callahan and sending them to Romo. Now Garrett receives the calls and passes them to Romo.

But Callahan said that does not mean Garrett changes the calls.

“We’re all on the same page. Nothing’s changed in terms of the play-calling, whatsoever,” he said. “There’s not changes of plays, or anything like that. Here is what I think everyone needs to understand: that there’s great communication among the offensive coaches. Jason’s a part of this process, of game-planning, and being on the sideline during the game, I think he’s just become more active with Tony in that regard.”

Callahan said the changes wait until halftime.

“Then we’ll tweak it or we’ll look at what we want to amend or maybe bring up or possibly showcase a little bit more,” he said. “But really, there’s no changing of plays. There’s no power struggle or anything like that. I have this responsibility, and we communicate, I think, really well, as we have been. But anything that gets us going is always positive. If Coach feels it was a good change, we’re all for it. I was all for it.”

Asked for specifics on what Garrett communicates to him, Callahan said, “It’s more like,  ‘What are you thinking on this series, Bill? What are your thoughts going into this next drive? What do you have going?’ He just wants to know, and that’s communicated. ‘We’re gong to do this, we’re going to try to get to this personnel grouping, we’re going to try to get to this run or this group of passes.’ That’s what’s communicated, essentially, on the headset during the course of the game.”

WATERS IN THE FLOW: Bill Callahan thinks veteran Dallas Cowboys guard is ready to start

Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan said RT Doug Free never strayed away from his dedication to the job - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys play coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan didn’t want to rush Brian Waters into the lineup.

Now, after three weeks to settle into the Cowboys’ offense after a year off from football, the veteran guard and his coaches feel like he’s ready to start for the first time this year after rotating with Mackenzy Bernadeau the first three games.

“We think so,” Callahan said. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll adjust it accordingly. We’ve got a lot of confidence in both he and Mackenzy. We’ll see how it plays out, but I think there’s been good communication along the lines of where he’s at from a strength and conditioning standpoint, also in terms of where his stamina is out. We’ll watch that carefully.”

Callahan said he wouldn’t have given Waters more than he was physically capable of handling, but he can tell the quality of play the veteran still brings to the game. The 36-year-old will continue to be monitored, but it sounds like the coaches are preparing him for a more permanent role.

That would mean Bernadeau’s role could shift around.

“I have a lot of respect for Bernadeau, in terms of what he can do,” Callahan said. “Of course, if he has to step in and play and start, he’s very capable. He’s a starter anywhere in this league. We’re utilizing him at a lot of different spots. He could be in a position to help backup at center just like he did a year ago when we lost a few guys, and of course he could play the left side as well if he needed to.”

Not every player can take more than a year off in the NFL and return and play at a high level, but if anyone’s seen it work on the line, it’s Callahan. He believes Waters, a former six-time Pro Bowler, is ready to do the same.

“Steve Wisniewski did it in Oakland, and when he came back, he was in great shape,” Callahan said. “Those guys know how to take care of their bodies. They’re Pro Bowlers for a reason. They know what their limitations are, they know that their body needs, they know how to train, they know how to prepare. They wouldn’t get to the level that they’re at as a player if they don’t have an understanding and awareness of all those other factors.”

He expected Waters’ progression to be gradual as the season began, and Bernadeau seemed to pick his play up from last year to allow the veteran guard to ease his way in. Callahan compared Waters’ situation to a lineman entering training camp.

“For the veteran lineman playing that first preseason game of 10 to 12 snaps or 14 snaps and then playing a quarter or playing a half, we believe that progression has helped him,” Callahan said. “We just didn’t want to throw him out there and force him into a situation that he wasn’t physically ready for. Now, is he mentally tough enough to do that? Sure, he could do that. But I think in all fairness to him and our team, we want him to be in the best possible condition so he can play at the highest level.”


Watch Video - Dallas Cowboys OC Bill Callahan - We Left Yards On The Field first three games - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys
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Callahan: We Left Yards On The Field first three weeks

Bill Callahan talks about improving their play on the road, and why the feel the offense left some yards on the field in the first three weeks.

RUNNING LANE PAINS: Callahan to call upon DeMarco Murray more often

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IRVING, Texas – However prepared Bill Callahan is to call Sunday’s gameplan against the Rams, he’s certainly prepared to answer the inevitable questions about it.

The whirlwind of questioning about the Dallas Cowboys offense – from playcalling to the ineffectiveness of the running game – turned its attention to Callahan on Thursday after moving past Jason Garrett and Tony Romo earlier in the week.

In his first season as the Cowboys’ playcaller, Callahan seemed well-prepared for the second-guessing that comes with a head-scratching loss to the Chiefs last weekend.

“We just felt like there were some real matchups that we liked in that game, and we wanted to go with that. That’s the way it played out, and when it doesn’t play out, that’s a part of the job. I shoulder that, and I don’t shun that responsibility whatsoever,” he said. “Going forward, we’re trying to put together a run gameplan we can all be proud of and we all like, and we can hopefully get to that balance that we’re looking for.”

Most of the expectation to fix the Dallas running game, which ranks 26th in the league with just 62 yards per game, is going to fall on Callahan. It’s a line that has been repeated around Valley Ranch to this point in the season, but Callahan said the offense can’t get too caught up in meeting quotas as opposed to doing what works.

“By and large it’s circumstantial – we just took advantage of some opportunities that existed and we went after coverage and honestly some coverages that we liked,” Callahan said. “It’s not that we didn’t want to run it, it’s just that during the course of a game, you’re going to go ahead and attack a defense in a certain way and a certain manner.”

Garrett fielded the question earlier on Thursday, and Romo faced it when he talked to reporters Wednesday: at what point do you decide between taking what the defense gives you and running purely for the sake of the running game.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be able to run when they’re playing the run, and you’ve got to be able to pass when they’re playing the pass,” Garrett said.

Callahan added on to that Thursday afternoon with the thought that the running game doesn’t always have to look like a running game – an idea that might explain the prevalence for short passes in the first two weeks of the season.

“There’s so many aspects of running the football – there’s play action, there’s run action, there’s movement passes. There are numerous things that can equate to a run as well,” he said. “It could be the screen game, it could be the check down system, whatever that may be – in the passing game, that it really becomes like a run. Sometimes I think that gets kind of lost in translation.”

He did stress that he didn’t mean that as an excuse, however. With 39 attempts through two games, Dallas ranks 27th in the league in rushes – a stat he conceded isn’t good enough even if the Cowboys are using other means of moving the ball.

“We’ve got to do a better job — I’ve got to do a better job calling more runs,” he said. “So that’s something that we’re working hard on.” 

He added:  “No excuses, but we have to run it more and we’ve got to put it in DeMarco’s hands, because he’s capable of doing a lot of great things.”

As has widely been speculated, the return of Brian Waters to a large in-game role may help rejuvenate the rushing attack. Callahan said Waters has adapted quickly – an impressive accomplishment, given the required cohesion between offensive linemen — because he is familiar with the Cowboys’ system.

That said, the Cowboys’ playcaller seemed to embrace the responsibility for the offense’s success or failure, as he avoided calling out the offensive line. Callahan said the playcalling needs to improve – something there’s still plenty of time for, he added.

“We like our line — our line is physical. But we’ve got to do a better job calling it, and I’ve got to do a better job personally, and that’s my responsibility – one that I own up to and one that we all want to get better at,” he said. “But we’re working hard, our guys still believe and it’s still early on in this season to build our run game and get to where we want to go. But as we all know, talk is cheap and we’ve got to put it into action.”

WILD BILL CALLAHANDOFF: Dallas OC not thrilled with his last play call

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan wasn’t thrilled with his last play call Sunday. He called for a screen to running back DeMarco Murray with 16 seconds remaining with the Cowboys at their own 4. Murray gained 10 yards and time expired before they got off another play.

“Yeah, I’ve got to do better with that,” Callahan agreed Sunday. “I’ve got to do a better job of making a better call in that situation. Yeah.”

The chances were slim the Cowboys were going to get in field-goal range anyway, needing 50-plus yards and without a timeout. But quarterback Tony Romo said the Cowboys were trying to get in position for a jump ball for the final play.

“Ninety-five percent of the teams are going to be really soft in that situation,” Romo said. “You think you can get a good 30 to 40 yards to throw a jump ball. With that much time, you can get out of bounds to the 40, to the 50 and have a chance at it, so I thought that was a good call, and it gives you a chance, an opportunity to do that. They played a little bit of an aggressive defense, two-man, at that point, which you don’t normally see.”

DALLAS’ TEXAS 2 CLOSER: Henderson pushing Brandon Carr for early impact

Brandon Carr has shown he can come up big late in games. He had a fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown last year in Philadelphia, an overtime interception against Pittsburgh also last year, and last week, he had a fourth-quarter pick-six against the New York Giants.

But secondary coach Jerome Henderson can’t help imagining what could happen if the Cowboys can get Carr making a bigger impact earlier in games.

“Let’s go do it all the time,” Henderson said. “I think he’s got that ability, that he can be a difference-maker for our team, and we keep talking about it and pushing him that direction, to be a difference-maker.”

With four interceptions, Carr has already made a difference 17 games into a Cowboys career that began with a $50.1 million contract over five years.

But what Henderson is talking about is influencing the game from the start. He believes Carr has the level of talent that he doesn’t need to always let the game come to him.

“You impose your will on the game, but you do it in a sound way,” Henderson said. “You don’t do that being unsound and taking chances and doing things that will get you beat. Just with the force of your play, your attention to detail, you impose your will on the game. And there are players that do that, and again, we’re always pushing him to become that.”

Carr already has a knack for one thing Henderson and the new defensive coaches preach – scoring with a turnover. Carr has returned two interceptions for a touchdown with the Cowboys, and another return reached the 1.

“We really beat it into their heads this year: score,” Henderson said. “Because it’s hard for defensive players to tackle good runners. It’s hard. We miss tackles, and we practice that skill all the time. Offensive players don’t practice it. So when you get the ball, make them tackle you. Don’t go out of bounds. Make somebody tackle you because they don’t do it very often. We get it, we want to score.”

DALLAS’ DEFENSIVE FOOD CHAIN: Cowboys linemen will get to ‘eat first’ with new defense

big cat - dallas cowboys leon lett - the boys are back blog

The Dallas Cowboys’ move back to the 4-3 defense is music to Leon Lett’s ears. He’s going to get a chance to teach what he knows.

“In a 3-4 you did more of a read-and-react. This is more of a react-on-the-run – rush the quarterback and then react to the run on the way to the quarterback,” he said last week as the Cowboys’ assistant coaches met with reporters. “Kind of the same thing I did as a football player, so I’m kind of used to it, and I’m looking forward to teaching it and coaching it.”

Lett collected 22.5 sacks and 229 tackles in a 10-year career with the Cowboys, twice making the Pro Bowl. He played at 6-foot-6, 290 pounds.

“I think we have players all across the board that have the instinct for that defense,” Lett said. “DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lissemore – I think all our guys can adapt and play this 4-3 scheme. They’re fast, they’re quick, they’re big, they’re athletic, and that’s what you need.”

Lett was retained as assistant defensive line coach, and he’ll get a chance to work with respected NFL veteran Rod Marinelli, who is now in charge of the Cowboys’ defensive line.

“We just have to get them to adjust to a different technique,” Lett said. “In a 3-4 scheme, you were a little bit more two-gap, head-up. We’re going to get them to shade on the shoulder and penetrate and get up field. So I’ve been talking to Coach Marinelli about that, and we’re looking forward to retraining the guys in that scheme.”

Lett said it was the focus on penetrating into the backfield that made the position fun for him when he played.

“Some guys just love to play the 3-4, head up, but the 4-3 is more about a penetrating, we-get-to-eat-first type of deal. That’s what we’re calling it. We’re at the front of the food chain.”

POTATO PATATO: Rob Ryan emphasizes takeovers, not turnovers

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan works the sideline against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – Give Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan credit for coming up with an interesting way to address creating turnovers.

“Obviously we’re not good at getting turnovers, so we’re going to get takeovers this week,” Ryan said. “We’ve changed the game and I think we’re going to do much better. So we’re getting takeovers and we’re ready to go.”

In the first five games, the Cowboys have generated only four turnovers, including a league-low one interception. Only Indianapolis (three) has created fewer than the Cowboys. New England leads the NFL with 16 takeaways (six interceptions, 10 fumbles).

Dallas’ defense does rank #2 in yards allowed per game, only behind the 49ers. The Cowboys also have the #1 passing defense in the NFL.

Sunday’s foe, Carolina, has turned it over 11 times on the season with five interceptions and two lost fumbles from Cam Newton, two lost fumbles from Joe Adams and one each from Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams.

The Cowboys have emphasized the importance of creating turnovers every possibly way through drills and video. Let’s see if the name change works.

Todd Archer (ESPN – Dallas) contributed to this post

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Ryan: I Can Handle The Option

Rob Ryan talks about handling the Panthers offense, and what he expects once his defense is full speed.

GOING INSIDE OUT: Dallas Cowboys coverage advantages with LB’s Bruce Carter, Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Bruce Carter (54) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Dallas Clark - The Boys Are Back blog

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the Cowboys may be one of the few teams that can afford to play nickel defense on third down. That’s because their inside linebackers, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, can cover.

“We can keep both those guys in because most people have liability in coverage,” Ryan said. “These guys excel in coverage. We like to keep both of them out there as much as possible. They’ve been doing a great job.”

Lee and Carter are the leading and fourth-leading tacklers on the team, with 67 tackles between them. Each has a pass defensed and two tackles for loss. Lee has an interception.

Head coach Jason Garrett said Carter learned from the touchdown catch behind him in short yardage last week against Tampa.

“The biggest thing on the touchdown was, it’s a really difficult play for a linebacker,” Garrett said, “because you’re down in that short-yardage situation, that goal-line situation, and he has to be the guy who fits the run and hits the run and makes the play in the run game – and, oh, by the way, you gotta cover that 7-route by that tight end. So it’s a hard play. He was playing the run more than he was playing the pass and reacted back late to it. But that’s what you have to do. You see teams around the league complete that play all the time.”

Garrett said with time, Carter will see tell-tale signs when that play is coming.

“Seeing the separation between the back and the quarterback, maybe not seeing the linemen come off quite as low and firm as if it’s a run, maybe processing all that, and that’s just going to take time,” Garrett said. “But he certainly has the physical skills for it. He made a ton of plays for us.”

WORK IN PROGRESS: Rob Ryan says it’ll be a bigger deal if Cowboys are No. 1 on defense after 16 weeks

Video - Rob Ryan press conference - Week 3 2012 Season - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan promised he’d bring a No. 1-rated defense to the Cowboys, and he’s done it.

Three weeks into the season, the Cowboys lead the NFL in fewest yards allowed, the league’s traditional measure for defensive ranking.

Big deal, coach?

“It’s going to be big if we can get it after 16 weeks,” Ryan said Saturday at Valley Ranch in his usual ‘Friday’ meeting with reporters. “It’ll be good. We’re happy with where we are. Guys have been working hard. We’re not ashamed of being No. 1, that’s where we want to be. We’re excited about that. We want to keep getting better.”

The Cowboys have gotten to No. 1 on defense despite injuries that have knocked out three starters – nose tackle Jay Ratliff (who hasn’t played yet), defensive end Kenyon Coleman (one game), safety Gerald Sensabaugh (one game) and safety Barry Church (season-ending Achilles last week).

Now, linebacker Anthony Spencer is slowed. He’s missed practice all week with a shoulder injury.

“We’ve had a lot of guys play for us, which a lot of people do – you go through injuries, that’s part of the game,” Ryan said. “It’s exciting. Our guys have really worked hard for that, and we’re not making apologizes for being No. 1.”

Ryan was asked if he simply has better players to work with this year as opposed to his first year with the Cowboys.

“Well, I definitely think we have excellent players,” he said. “We’ve got excellent coaches. With our team the way we play all three phases, yeah, we can definitely be successful. I think we could have been successful last year. We weren’t as successful obviously. But those guys worked hard, and we had some good veteran players on that group as well. But the guys are really functioning together as a group. And I think no one wants to let the others down, that’s for sure.”

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Rob Ryan: Not ashamed To be #1

Rob Ryan talks about his Dallas Cowboys new triple-flex defense through the first three weeks, and what they need to do for the remainder of the season.

COWBOYS-GIANTS VIDEO RECAP: Cherish the Dallas Cowboys win on The Boys Are Back blog

As a courtesy, The Boys Are Back blog wants to share the video highlights and special interviews associated with last nights Dallas Cowboys victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. When you click on each link, the video should open in a separate window. Enjoy!

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Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants Highlights (Courtesy: NBC)

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo found WR Kevin Ogletree for 114 yards and 2 TD’s as the Cowboys took down the Giants in the first game of the 2012 season, 24-17.

 

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Dallas Cowboys Today Postgame Report (Courtesy DC.com)

The Dallas Cowboys crew recaps the season opener win against the New York Giants.

 

 

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Dallas Cowboys Postgame Press Conference

Coach Jason Garrett and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo speak after the New York Giants game.

 

 

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Jason Garrett’s Postgame Locker room Speech with Players

Join Mickey Spagnola as he listens in to Jason Garrett’s postgame speech after Wednesday nights victory over the NY Giants

 

 

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VW Quick Snap – Cowboys vs. Giants (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)

Presented by Volkswagen. Experience the sights and sounds of the Cowboys victory over the Giants in their season opener. If you only watch one video, watch this one! Brad Sham, the Voice of the Dallas Cowboys, captures moments unlike anyone in sports. Check it out!

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Talkin’ Cowboys: Game Recap (Duration 57:43 – Surf and Listen)

Join Derek, Nick, Josh, and Blair as they breakdown last nights thrilling victory against the Giants.

 

 

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Tony Romo Postgame (In-depth; duration 9:01)

Tony Romo addresses the media after the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants in NFL season opener.

 

 

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Cowboys Break: A Sign Of Things To Come? (Duration 58:40)

It’s Glory Hole Thursday! haha The Break takes a look at the Dallas Cowboys victory over the New York Giants and if the result could possibly carry over to the rest of the season.

 

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BONUS VIDEOS: Know The Enemy – Jason Pierre-Paul and Victor Cruz

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Know The Enemy – New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul

In the second portion of this weeks "Know The Enemy", Bryan Broaddus takes a look at the Giants most powerful weapon on defense

Posted: Sep 5, 2012 (posted before the game)

 

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Know The Enemy: Victor Cruz

In the first portion of this weeks "Know The Enemy", Bryan Broaddus takes a look at one of the Giants most powerful weapons on offense

Posted Sep 4, 2012 (posted day before the game)

 

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