Skip to main content

Fassel Giving 'Blank Slate' To Special Teams 


Coaches who have been around the league for at least a decade usually have their own style and techniques that they can fall back on.

While that might be true for new special teams coordinator John Fassel, he's giving the entire special teams a blank slate moving forward.

Fassel, who has been with the Los Angeles Rams since 2012, said he has notes on the Cowboys' special teams units, having played them five times in either the regular season, preseason or postseason over the last three years.

He won't address what might have gone wrong with the special teams here in Dallas; he is dedicated to fixing it.

"I can't answer to that. I'm going into this with a blank slate for myself and for every person who has been on this team," Fassel said. "I look forward to building it how I want to build it. What's happened here in the past, I can't speak of that. I look forward to teaching the players and getting them to be prideful in what they do."

In fact, he's looking to change some of his own ways as well.

"I've only been here a week but I'm starting to dive into a little reinvention of myself, whether it's schematics or progression of technique install," Fassel said. "When I come to a new team, I say, 'What have I done in the past that I liked, and what have I done in the past that I can do better?' It's a chance for me with a new team to just reinvent myself and think about all the things I've done and how I can do it better."

The Cowboys struggled mightily on special teams last season. Whether it was a blocked punt in New England that led to the Patriots' only touchdown, or missed field goals by Brett Maher, or allowing big returns in the kicking game, the Cowboys seemingly had an issue every week during the middle of the season.

Fassel spent three years in Baltimore (2005-07) as an assistant special teams coach before three years as the special teams coordinator in Oakland. Despite having a kicker, punter and deep snapper make the Pro Bowl in 2011, Fassel was let go with the rest of the staff. But he landed the job with the Rams and was with them for eight years, creating quite a reputation as not only an innovator, but for being aggressive with fakes and other ways to attack special teams units.

Fassel said more than personnel, alignment and technique, building chemistry is the biggest key to formulating a strong unit in the kicking game.

"A lot of the successes that come with special teams have to do with intangibles," Fassel said on Monday. "The personnel is a huge part of it, and the player development is a huge part of it. But when you can get a group of running backs, linebackers, tight ends, receivers, DBs to become cohesive and make it seem like those guys are valuable to a team, that's probably the biggest component to being successful on special teams. Building chemistry and building pride and getting them to feel like they're important when a lot of times they're backups on offense or defense, but they're a starter on special teams. That's kind of my message to them: 'You're important to this football team.'"