The Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys are closing in on hiring Rich Bisaccia as their new Special Teams Coordinator. DallasCowboys.com confirms the report, writing that the Cowboys "now appear to be zeroed in on Biasccia." Bisaccia is fresh off a two-year stint as the special teams coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, and coached together with Monte Kiffin in Tampa Bay before that.
Complicating things a little is the fact that Bisaccia, 52, signed a contract with Auburn in early January to be their assistant coach in charge of special teams and running backs. According to the DMN report, the Cowboys are negotiating a buyout of that contract with Auburn before they can make an official announcement.
In Tampa, Bisaccia worked under new Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin and was part of the 2002 Super Bowl Champion team that defeated the Raiders in San Diego. Interesting factoid of the day: at one point Bisaccia had both Mike Tomlin (current Steelers Head Coach) and Raheem Morris (former Buccaneers Head Coach) working for him. In San Diego, Bisaccia helped helped rescue San Diego’s special teams from near dormancy and restored a measure of credibility for the unit. Here's a summary of Bisaccia's NFL coaching experience:
Rich Bisacchia NFL Coaching Experience:
2012: Asst. Head Coach and Special Teams, San Diego Chargers
2011: Special Teams, San Diego Chargers
2009-10: Assoc. Head Coach and Special Teams, Tampa Bay
2008: Assoc. Head Coach, Special Teams and Running Backs, Tampa Bay
2002-07: Special Teams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Each year, Football Outsiders puts together special teams ratings based on all sorts of special teams stats.Going by that measure, Bisaccia took over a Chargers special teams unit that ranked 32nd in the league in 2010 and improved it to 23rd and 8th in 2011 and 2012. Here's an overview how Bisaccia's units have ranked over the last 11 seasons. And for your convenience, the ranking of the Cowboys' special teams units over that same period is included as well.
Over the last 11 seasons, Bisaccia's special teams units have ranked ahead of the Cowboys eight times. And while that may be just as much an indictment of the Cowboys as it is an endorsement of Bisaccia, it should give Cowboys fans reason for some guarded optimism about the 2013 special teams unit.
But Bisaccia's numbers, as good as they are relative to the Cowboys, also show how erratic special teams performance can be. So while Bisaccia has a strong track record as a special teams coordinator, that is by no means a guarantee that the Cowboys' special teams unit will show improved play next year.
However, Bisaccia will have a solid foundation to work with in Dallas: The Cowboys ranked number one in the league in field goal percentage last year thanks to Dan Bailey. Dwayne Harris was a late find last season, and when the Cowboys finally used him as a punt returner he averaged 16.1 yards per return, the second best value in the league. Chris Jones, when healthy, has averaged over 40 net yards per punt. At the same time, the Cowboys rank near the bottom of the league in kickoff returns, may need to look for a new long snapper and have not been entirely assignment-sound in their blocking on special teams, so there's also a lot of work yet to be done.
As with all the new coaching hires, their previous coaching record is nice to know and impressive to recite, but the 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'.