Scout’s Eye: New Coaching Techniques On Display During Saturday’s Walkthroughs

FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys’ rookies have one more day of minicamp, lasting through Sunday, but we in the media won’t be on hand to see it.

There was plenty to see on Saturday afternoon, though, as the Cowboys’ coaching staff once again took their newest players through a couple of walkthroughs to help them get acclimated to the next level.

Here’s a handful of notes and observations from Saturday:

  • One thing I’ve noticed about this secondary while doing drills is how long the players are. This group appears to all be the same size – tall with reach. It is especially evident when Kris Richard and Greg Jackson have them working on playing press/man. They’re teaching them to two-hand jam then take their off hand to force the outside shoulder back in order to fall into position. This is a technique we’ve see the Seahawks play for years under Richard.
  • Rob Marinelli had his defensive linemen working on defeating double-team blocks. Both Leon Lett and Andre Gurode would engage them with the pad, then try to drive the defender back. Marinelli was instructing the defender to keep square, with a flat back on the block all while keeping their feet moving. Once the defender felt one of the blockers work away, then they were to move to that side and locate the ball carrier. Linemen that have a hard time playing double-team blocks don’t play in this league long. 
  • How many times during a game have we seen poor linebacker drops result in a completion?  New linebackers coach Ben Bloom has an interesting drill where he puts all five of his young guys on the field lined up in their position. Bloom then claps his hands while pointing in a certain direction. The linebackers drop in unison to that spot. Bloom then stops them at the proper depth, holding for a count and then pointing another direction driving them to react to the ball. The linebackers learn where their landmarks are on the field from a depth standpoint but they’re also using their eyes to react.
  • Everyone works during practice, but I am not sure if there is a group that does more work than the offensive linemen. Marc Colombo has been filling in for Paul Alexander this weekend and I’d have to say that Colombo’s group doesn’t stop. There is one drill in particular where it’s like the linemen are working through a maze. I am not sure but there appears to be six or seven stations where the linemen are working on footwork. Left/right and forward/back -- but never stopping. They went from one station directly to another. Their technique usually started well but by the time they got to the end they were spent.    
  • Pretty impressive to watch Dalton Schultz to go through the blocking chutes. The guy has a pretty good feel for how to keep his knees bent, which in turn keeps his rear down. By playing this way, it’s going to allow him to maintain leverage on his man but also help him get movement. A high or tall blocker will never win at the point of attack playing this way. There were a couple of reps where Doug Nussmeier was clearly pleased with his technique and effort.
  • Undrafted free agent safety Tyree Robinson made a beautiful one-handed interception but it came with a price. It appeared that just after he snatched the ball, Greg Jackson was standing right there to correct him that he should have been deeper on the hash in a Cover 2 look instead of where he made the interception.
  • When I studied Dorance Armstrong on tape, I had his weight at 245 pounds. When he showed up Thursday for the opening of camp his weight was listed at 259 pounds. A 14-pound weight gain is pretty significant, but now seeing him in person, you’d never notice that he looked any different. What I was impressed with initially is how strong he is. The group was working on a drill where they were extending one arm in order to control the blocker. Armstrong put his hand right in the middle of Andre Gurode’s chest and with three lateral steps, was able to walk him back easily. Gurode was not trying to give ground on the drill but Armstrong gave him no choice.
  • I am sure there is a cool name for this drill from receivers coach Sanjay Lal, but I am going to call it “The Ski Jumper.” Lal had Michael Gallup stand straight up and then fall forward over the tops of his toes like a ski jumper. Once extended, Lal then let him go. By doing this, it forced Gallup to step forward to regain his balance and pivot inside on the curl. It was an interesting teaching technique in order to get Gallup to feel his weight transfer to make the cut.
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