Dallas Cowboys Free Agent Signings: What Their Former Coaches Are Saying About Them

Rex Ryan and Gary Kubiak had nice things to say about their former players.

From 7:15 -8:15 AM in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the NFL scheduled the AFC Head Coaches Media Breakfast. All AFC coaches were available simultaneously and answered questions for the assembled reporters.

The NFC portion of the breakfast is scheduled for today, and normally, we'd focus on that part of the meeting. But it just so happens that five of the seven free agents the Cowboys signed from other teams joined the Cowboys from AFC teams. And each of their former coaches were kind enough to answer some questions about their former players.

  • Romeo Crennel talks about how Brandon Carr will fit in Rob Ryan's system and how Kyle Orton helped him secure the Chiefs' head coaching job.
  • Rex Ryan reflects on how Brodney Pool will be in a good situation in Dallas in what he thinks will be the league's second best defense (after the Jets, of course).
  • Marvin Lewis of the Bengals describes how the Cowboys were "very, very high on Nate Livings."
  • Gary Kubiak explains how the Texans hated losing Lawrence Vickers.

Read the details of what they all had to say after the break.

[The following is a manual transcript of each coaches interview as per the linked videos. All errors and omissions are mine]

Romeo Crennel on Brandon Carr

On what the Cowboys are getting with Brandon Carr (link to video):

Romeo Crennel: I think they're getting a very good cover corner. He's got length. He's got speed. He's developed a mental toughness about playing the position.

I saw him improve in the two years he was with us. He became a very consistent corner, making plays on the ball. If there is one thing that Brandon probably can do better and probably will do better is begin to intercept the ball more.

First of all, he's been able to line up on the field and go one-on-one with some of the top receivers in our division and some of the top receivers in the NFL to prove that he can cover, that he can handle the pressure that it takes to play that position. If he has a bad play, he's able to put that one behind him and go on and play the next one. In the two years that I've been with him, I've seen him develop and grow in confidence; his confidence to be able to play that position.

I think you have a good player and he will fit well in Rob's system.

On Carr's physicality at the point of attack

Crennel: We tried to be aggressive sometimes in our jams and re-routes, and he'll do a good job at those.

On which side Carr could play on

Crennel: We've always had him on the right. We didn't put him on the left. Probably if we put him over there and got his footwork down, he'd be able to do it.

On how Crennel knows Carr is gong to be a good fit in Rob Ryan's scheme:

Crennel: Because I know what Rob is trying to do and how Rob is going to do it. And Brandon, he can cover man-to-man, he can play zone, and Rob is going to do some of both of those. He'll be a good fit.

Romeo Crennel on Kyle Orton

Crennel: Kyle came in and did a tremendous job for us. We had three games there, he didn't turn the ball over. He controlled the offense. He helped us win two out of three and we were very close to winning the third one - a blocked kick away from three wins and probably making the playoffs.

He did a tremendous job. I've told him that I'm thankful for what he did for me and helping me get this job.

Now he's down in Dallas with a good opportunity and I think he'll make the best and most of it.

Rex Ryan on Brodney Pool

On what type of player the Cowboys are getting in Brodney Pool (link to video):

Rex Ryan: They're getting a great person, number one. An excellent guy and a good competitor. He did an outstanding job. The first year that we had him, Brodney was tremendous.

He started have the games for us at least over those two years, so they're getting a smart, tough, athletic football player and a guy that has played for both me and my brother. He was with my brother, he recommended him to me; we got him and recommended him to Rob.

We would have liked to have had him back but Dallas was fortunate to get him.

On whether Rex's and Rob's schemes are similar.

Rex Ryan: Probably not very. We do some things that are similar, but we do a lot of different things.

He's already played for Rob, he had an outstanding year for him before he was put on IR. I think he had four or five interceptions. But Rob knows what he's getting, Brodney knows what he's going into. I think that'll be a good situation.

On Rob's first year with the Cowboys

Rex Ryan: I think if they make the kind of jump they made the first year - I think they went from 31st in the league to 15th in the league; improved a touchdown a game from the previous season.

I think that's impressive. That's under the radar. I think you get criticized because they assume, "Oh, you took over a top-rated defense.

That wasn't the case. He took over the 31st-rated defense and dropped them down to 15th. And I'll be honest with you: they've got a chance to be second in the league in defense.

Second in the league?

Rex Ryan: Absolutely.

On how tough it is to learn Rob's defense.

Rex Ryan: It's not a vanilla defense. If you play vanilla defense in this league you are going to get busted, especially going against the teams they go against. Like anything else, it does take time to implement things. Having the minicamps and training camp, all that kind of stuff, I think will help.

Marvin Lewis on Nate Livings

On what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Nate Livings (link to video)

Marvin Lewis: Nate is a guy who really earned his opportunity. he came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He was on our practice squad for parts of three seasons. He's a hard working, physical guy who did it the right way. He's a big-time family man, he's a great kid.

On why the Bengals didn't keep Livings

Lewis: We had a lot of irons in the fire. We have some new guys as well, and it just didn't work out.

On Livings' strengths

Lewis: People would say Nate's strength is run-blocking, but we thought Nate could become a really fine pass protector.

Bill Callahan really liked Nate. They were very, very high on him. He's one of those guys who's been a great leader for us; a great physical guy up front and now he's getting a good opportunity.


Gary Kubiak on Lawrence Vickers

On Lawrence Vickers (link to video):

Gary Kubiak: He's a great kid. He's a very emotional kid. You're going to get a lot of passion. He's a physical player; loves to bang; loves to talk on the field a little bit but that's personality. He did a hell of a job for me. He started for me from week five on and we ran the ball very, very well.

I hated to lose him, but I wish him the best. I talked to him the other day and I know he's excited about coming to the Cowboys. I think you'll be very pleased with his effort and what he stands for. We would have loved to have him back, but t looked it happened very quickly between him and the Cowboys once he was free.

Not many teams use a fullback anymore, but I know Dallas still does, so when he became available I'm sure it was a good opportunity for them.

On Vickers' smash-mouth style

Kubiak: That's what Vick loves to do. He just loves to hit; loves contact; he'll play special teams for you very well too. He plays with a lot of emotion, I really liked that. I think he brought a lot of emotion to our offensive football team - and to our halfback too. I think Arian kind of fed off of him, so I think you'll be very pleased.

And because I think I may get myself a #47 jersey, here's a interview with Lawrence Vickers from a while back that I think you'll enjoy tremendously:

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