IRVING, Texas – Stories, phrases, sayings, expressions … all of the things that coaches say on a regular basis – were told with regularity in about a 90-minute session outside the Cowboys locker room at Valley Ranch.
One day after head coach Jason Garrett met with reporters for about an hour introducing most of the new coaches, the Cowboys introduced the entire coaching staff to the Dallas-Fort Worth media as nearly 20 coaches held solo media sessions.
It was the first opportunity to interact with Monte Kiffin, the vibrant defensive coordinator who joked about his age but promised them and showed them, he’s as energetic as any other coach on staff.
New faces such as Rod Marinelli, Rich Bisaccia and Derek Dooley shared their stories and views on philosophies and all shared the same excitement about getting to work.
Not only the new coaches, but some of the familiar faces around here held court, including Bill Callahan, who had quite a crowd around him as he explained his viewpoint of the play-calling situation.
So here are some of the highlights that transpired Thursday from the Coaches Media Day:
Energetic Ball Coach
Monte Kiffin didn’t wait for any questions. He went right into his background and revealed his coaching stops, pointing out that despite being at lucrative places such as Green Bay, Southern Cal and Nebraska, that he sees the passion here for the Cowboys as being even greater. Still, Kiffin knows there are questions about his age, which he had fun with several times and also the change to a 4-3 scheme. He downplayed both, including the defensive switch.
“Last time I checked you need 11 players on the field,” Kiffin said. “So 3-4 … 4-3, it doesn’t matter. I know this, we’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to get after’em.”
Kiffin then revealed his basic philosophy as a coach.
“It’s really pretty simple. You want to sum up the philosophy of coach Kiffin? Play hard - doesn’t take talent to play hard. Play fast - play a little faster on Sunday. Play together. It’s a team game. If you don’t want to be on a great team and play together, then you may not fit.”
Kiffin might have 72 years under his belt, but he’s as fired up as anyone else right now.
More Explosive Ware?
Among the changes on defense next season will be
New defensive line coach Rod Marinelli holds a different belief.
“I think it’ll aid him a little bit, because I think your takeoff is better,” Marinelli said. “Your keys are a little more consistent with what you’re doing – at least that’s my opinion. He’s an elite rusher right now, and I just think the more opportunity he has to come doing the same things every day, every week, the repetition, which allows you to become even faster, the sky’s the limit for him, I believe.”
He said he’s proud of what he’s been able to accomplish and what the future holds for him after moving from quality control coach to assistant offensive line coach to tight ends coach. He said it’s easy for him to stay immersed in his work when he’s doing something he loves.
Carving His Niche
Wes Phillips will make the move from assistant offensive line coach to tight ends coach this year, marking a rise in the ranks for Phillips, who’s now making a name for himself as a coach, rather than Wade’s son.
“That was kind of always my goal when I was hired here,” Phillips said. “I understood that I got the opportunity because my dad was in this league. That was one of my main drives was to prove that I belong here and that I can do the job and do it well and work hard and show people I can do it as well as anybody.”
Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus isn’t quite as spirited and comfortable on a podium as his good friend Rob Ryan. He’s also now out of a comfort zone with Ryan and the 3-4 defense gone, but he’s excited about learning a new scheme and building his coaching repertoire.
Eberflus knew early on during the coaching changes in the offseason that he’d stick around, and he recognizes the move to a 4-3 with Monte Kiffin at the helm could be beneficial personally and for his linebackers.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity for me professionally to learn a new scheme, go from a 3-4 to a 4-3 coaching the linebackers,” Eberflus said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for me.”
- Rowan Kavner
Skins on the Wall
New running backs coach Gary Brown said he demands a lot from his players. But that’s exactly how he wanted to be coached when he played eight years in the NFL, including five with the Houston Oilers.
Brown said his playing experience alone can help get the players’ attention, but that’s just the start to building a good player-coach relationship.
“It gives you a little bit of reprieve because they know you played,” Brown said. “But then you have to prove that you know what
you’re talking about. You have to prove you’re there for their best interest. I think I try to do that every time I go out there. Hopefully they’ll realize that and we’ll go have some fun with this.”
- Nick Eatman