Perhaps no offseason move by the Dallas Cowboys will be as important as the ones that have already occurred. Under the leadership of new head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys have re-made their coaching staff. Most notably they restructured on the defensive side of the ball, bringing in Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator and hiring a group of new position coaches on that side of the ball. The Cowboys defense fell to pieces in 2010, and a new approach was desperately needed.
However, not to be overlooked, was a change they made on the offensive side of the ball. Receivers coach Ray Sherman was let go shortly after Jason Garrett was moved permanently into the head coach position. Speculation was rampant as to why it happened, our own rabblerousr discussed the relationship between Sherman, his receivers and Garrett, coming to the conclusion that Sherman's "buffering" between the receivers and Garrett was causing a mixed-message, a breakdown in the chain of command. KD wondered if the inability to maximize Dex Bryant's talents in the offensive scheme were also a factor. We'll probably never know, but whatever the case, it led to Jason Garrett hiring receivers coach Jimmy Robinson.
Robinson comes over from the world champion Green Bay Packers, and has a long history in the NFL of working with receivers, and turning them into stars. Some pf the players he's coached include Andre Rison, Amani Toomer, Joe Horn, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Everywhere Robinson has coached, the receivers and the passing game are usually a strength of the team. He's known as a meticulous coach who drills into his receivers the need to run precise patterns and stay within the offensive play call.
Robinson comes to Dallas with the cupboard full of talent at receiver. Now, he must figure out how to utilize and maximize that talent. Miles Austin, even though he didn't have the spectacular season like he did in 2009, still turned in a worthy performance. The absence of Tony Romo, and Austin's uncharacteristic drops, damaged his output, but he's still a star receiver in this league. Star-in-waiting, Dez Bryant, was a natural wonder of athletic ability in 2009, but needs to better understand the playbook and learn the route-running skills of a receiver destined to dominate.
Robinson knows he has talent at the position, and is anxious to start working with them. Especially Dez.
"He's a very, very talented young man. I think he loves football," Robinson said. "I don't know Dez well yet, but I had a chance to visit with him yesterday. He's a guy that as time goes by, he's going to show he can do it all. It's my job to help him to do that. It's going to be a gradual process, but again, I'm anxious for the opportunity."
"There aren't many guys out there like him," Robinson said. "My first year (in Green Bay) we drafted Greg Jennings and we saw what he became - just a great, great player. He doesn't have the sheer size of a Dez Bryant."
Working with Bryant and Austin will likely be the easy part of his job. The tough part? What do do with lightning-rod Roy Williams. The Cowboys were steadfast in keeping Williams as a starter in 2010, perhaps as a nod to the exorbitant price they paid for him, and perhaps because of injury and the not-quite-ready status of Dez Bryant early in the year.
This year, the Cowboys brain-trust has to make Dez Bryant the starter along side of Miles Austin. It would be unconscionable for them to continue to start Williams over Bryant. That leads to the problem of what to do with Roy Williams. Dallas has a ton of money tied-up in a receiver who should be the #3 option at the position in 2011. Can they afford to carry that on the books? Williams has never been shy about voicing his opinion, how much trouble would he stir up if he's unhappy with coming off the bench?
Robinson's thoughts on Roy Williams.
"I think he's a very talented receiver. He's had a number of good years in this league, " Robinson said of Williams. "Again, like all of them, I'm anxious to work with Roy and get to know him and see if I can help him, see if I can help him be a better player. That's a coach's job. Really it's as simple as that: How can I help you improve? How can I bring you from this level to this level? How can I help you from being a backup to maybe moving into a starter or a guy that plays quite a bit? Everybody has a different role."
That last sentence is interesting. Flip it on it's head, and Robinson could say: "How can I help you go from being a starter to maybe moving into a backup role, or a guy that plays less than he did? Everybody has a different role."
That seems to be thw big question for me, for the Cowboys, and for Jimmy Robinson.
Can Roy Williams succeed in Dallas as a #3 option? Is there anyway Dallas keeps Williams as a starter over Dez Bryant? Or is Roy's time in Dallas over?