(Editor's Note: Since Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells has hired three new assistant coaches and upgraded the responsibilities of four others, DallasCowboys.com will take a look at their duties in a seven-part series. Today's focus will be on linebackers coach Paul Pasqualoni.)
IRVING, Texas - After one of the Cowboys' June mini-camp practices, Jason Witten asked linebackers coach Paul Pasqualoni for some advice on a tight end technique, staying late while other players and coaches were heading for the locker room.
This might seem strange, a Pro Bowl tight end asking the linebackers coach for help, but evidently Witten feels he lost a good teacher over the off-season when Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells switched Pasqualoni to his new defensive role.
But Pasqualoni's coaching talents will likely be best served at linebacker, he says, though that doesn't mean he necessarily wanted to leave the tight ends behind.
"I really enjoyed my year with the tight ends," said Pasqualoni, the former Syracuse head coach who spent his first year coaching in the NFL last year with the Cowboys. "They were just an outstanding group, big-league class guys. They came to work every single day.
"They were outstanding in meetings, outstanding on the practice field, outstanding in the games."
Pasqualoni already realizes the linebackers are much the same way: High character players who love football. That always makes a coach's job easier, and Pasqualoni is hoping the similar personalities at the two positions will ease his transition.
"Nothing's ever easy, but I have coached the 3-4 before, not exactly this scheme but something very similar to it," Pasqualoni said. "I've got a lot to learn, like everybody does, but I think I've got a chance with time to make the transition."
For Parcells, in need of a linebacker coach after Gary Gibbs left to become former Cowboys assistant Sean Payton's defensive coordinator in New Orleans, Pasqualoni was a convenient fit: A guy already on the staff whose expertise really was linebackers, although he sees himself as qualified to teach just about any position.
"I've had the good fortune of being a head coach, and when you're the head coach you're involved in all phases of the program and in every position," said Pasqualoni, referring to his 14 years in charge at Syracuse. "Over the years, I probably have had some exposure to all the positions."
Name: Paul Pasqualoni
Position: Linebackers coach
Coaching Experience: 30 years
NFL Experience: 2nd year
Syracuse head coach (1991-04); Syracuse linebackers coach (1987-90); Western Connecticut State head coach (1982-86); Penn State linebackers coach (1968-71).
Still, Pasqualoni admits linebackers are his specialty. The coach lettered at the position at Penn State and coached linebackers throughout his rise as a collegiate assistant.
As head coach from 1991-2004 at Syracuse, Pasqualoni's program produced several NFL defensive stars, guys such as Colts pass-rusher Dwight Freeney and Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck. So Pasqualoni knows his defense. And if he could turn DeMarcus Ware and Bradie James into Freeney and Bulluck clones, it would be a job well done.
And now that Vincent Brown is on staff as the team's inside linebackers coach, Pasqualoni's job will be similar to a head coach's since he will oversee the entire linebacking corps, Brown's work included. So things must be starting to look very familiar to Pasqualoni after that one year stint with the tight ends.
"I think Coach Parcells had confidence that I could go over there and pick up on the great jobs that Coach Gibbs and (defensive doordinator Mike Zimmer) have done with the linebackers," Pasqualoni said. "And I hope I can help 'em and not hurt 'em."
And if the linebackers learn to trust Pasqualoni as obviously Witten has, they shouldn't be in bad shape.
(Next: A look at inside linebackers coach Vincent Brown.)