When the Cowboys signed veteran tight end Dan Campbell, they not only wanted a good, solid player who could help the offense as a pass-catcher and blocker, but they liked the leadership and experience he brought to the table.
Those traits are likely what the Dolphins are hoping to get out of Campbell, who was named Miami's interim head coach on Monday after the team fired previous head coach Joe Philbin. Campbell, the Dolphins' tight ends coach since 2011, played three seasons for the Cowboys from 2003-05.
He was the only tight end to start ahead of Jason Witten, who always called Campbell and mentor to him early in his career. Campbell caught 20 passes in 2003 – Witten's rookie year – but only had five in the next two seasons as Witten emerged as a Pro Bowler.
In an announcement on Monday, Campbell admitted to reporters it was "surreal" to now be in charge of the Dolphins but certainly didn't lack confidence.
"I can do this," Campbell said. "I understand this league, I understand these players, I know what it takes to win in this league. I've been around it, I've been around some really good coaches, and I know what it needs to look like."
Campbell played with the Giants from 1999-2002 before joining the Cowboys and was a teammate of current head coach Jason Garrett.
[embeddedad0]"Always a very smart guy," Garrett said of Campbell. "Knew the game really well, knew things beyond his position and really cared about it, cared about detail, always wanted to know more and loved to play, has a great passion for playing, a great passion for teams and a great passion for the game of football."
Garrett also knows a thing about taking over a struggling team in the middle of the season. In 2010, he replace Wade Phillips after the Cowboys started 1-7 and led the club to a 5-3 finish and a 6-10 overall record.
"I can only speak to my experience. We just knew we had to focus on the day and somehow someway making that particular day great," Garrett said of his first game as interim head coach. "And that's really the culture that we've tried to establish here. You let what's happened in the past go and you focus on the task at hand and typically the task at hand is being great on that particular day. We're trying to have a great day here on Monday at Valley Ranch and I'm sure they're trying to do the same thing down there in Miami."