The lockout has presented problems to all the teams, but as we've mentioned previously, teams with new coaching staffs are particularly hard hit. These new guys won't have a full offseason to implement their plans and schemes. For the Cowboys, it's troublesome because we have a slew of new coaches at different positions. Luckily, Jason Garrett, as a "new" coach, has an advantage over the other new head coaches; he's been with the team for years and had eight games last season to start the process of making the Cowboys his team.
On defense, the Cowboys brought in Rob Ryan to revamp a unit that bottomed-out last season. While still operating in a 3-4 defense, Ryan's scheme is a different animal from Wade Phillips' approach, and by all accounts more complex, with more variations for the players to handle. So not having a full offseason is a drag for this particular make-over.
Of course, that didn't stop the Cowboys and Ryan from sneaking in a little time early to get the process moving, a maneuver that ended up getting the organization fined (this fine was not lockout-related, but a standard NFL rules violation).
I think we'll live with that, considering it seems to be paying off somewhat in the informal workouts. They also had the one day reprieve from the lockout during the draft for playbook distribution.
Quarterback Tony Romo talked on Monday, and he repeatedly mentioned the work the defense is getting in learning the new system and how that was impacting the workouts.
“With a new system, I think the new system is bringing a little energy to the defensive side of the ball," Romo said. "I don’t know if you can pinpoint how important it is to the defense learning a new system, the verbage, talking to the guys.”
Romo said the players warm up, stretch and do individual drills before breaking up into separate offensive and defensive units. There the defense has its own walk-through period, where they go over the new system on cards.
“The defense splits up into a walk-through period through different cards that are set up for the day for the defense and learning the system,” Romo said.
It's not full-on tutelage from Rob Ryan, but it's at least making some headway in acclimating the guys to the new scheme. Compared to what I've read about some teams around the league, the Cowboys seem to be among the head of the class in getting things done at the workouts. They have a very high attendance rate, and they seem to be taking it very seriously.