The next phase in our look at the Right Kind of Guy is taking a look at the mental side of the game. By the time a player reaches the NFL the level of talent more or less balances out, and one way a player can gain an edge is by keeping his mind sharp.
Jason Garrett was never the most talented guy on the football field, but he always made damned sure he was one of the most prepared. During his career, the red headed one studied film with the intensity and dedication of a Peyton Manning and always looked for any advantage he could possibly get. Somewhat limited in his physical abilities, he compensated for that by maintaining a mental edge. At this point I usually take a few moments and reference other players that Garrett was exposed to as having been other influences on his concept of the Right Kind of Guy, but with the exception of Bill Bates, whom I used as an example in a previous installment of this series, I cannot think of anyone who put more into the mental side of the game. In the end, most of what Jason Garrett has gotten out of the game of football can be linked directly to the effort he put into developing his "Football Intelligence". Now let's look at some current Cowboys players who are showing similar efforts to gain a mental edge.
One guy who has impressed me with his efforts to benefit from film study is Dez Bryant. Recently BtB's Archie Barberio wrote a piece on Bryant were he highlighted the fact that #88 is devoting a large amount of time to studying film of how Jerry Rice used to run his routes. He also hinted that Bryant and WR's coach Derek Dooley had been looking at Bryants own highlights and focusing on eliminating things that were holding him back. As Chia concluded, this type of attention to detail will allow him to become a nightmare for enemy corners during the upcoming season.
Another player whose off the field work should be considered impressive is redshirt rookie Matt Johnson. Granted, we are all disappointed that we never got to see him on the field, but looking back to last summer most of us were impressed with the effort he put in to learn Rob Ryan's complex defensive schemes even though he was forced to miss rookie mini-camp and OTA's due to his school still being in session during those events. While we still have not had an opportunity to see what Matt is capable of doing on the field; he still should be commended for his effort to study both a new playbook and for finals at the same time. This bodes well for the Cowboys once he manages to finally find the football field.
The final person that impresses me with his study habits is Sean Lee. If you will recall Sean was used almost like an assistant coach under Joe Paterno. No matter what you might think of Joe Pa after the PSU scandal, the fact remains that there was no better place to learn about being a linebacker. He went so far as to attend some coaching seminars to better learn his craft, including one taught by former Cowboys DC Rob Ryan. According to Ryan, he was highly impressed with the young man's football knowledge and his ability to grasp Ryans complex defense. Like his current coach, Lee has focused a lot of effort into the study of film. Fans have already seen how this has paid off in Lee's play as an individual and also in his role as the signal caller for the Dallas defense. Although I cannot remember the actual source, I remember a quote about how Lee was looking toward being a defensive coach once his playing career is finished. If true, his work ethic and and high football IQ already have Sean well on his was to success in that endeavor as well.