The Dallas Cowboys have a new wide receivers coach, and his name is Sanjay Lal.
Sanjay has bounced around the NFL a little bit, coaching receivers at every stop. The Raiders, Jets, Bills, and Colts have all seen what he can do, and now the Cowboys look to get the best out of him.
Since news of Sanjay’s arrival broke Wednesday night, many Cowboys fans have been looking at his track record to see what he’s capable of.
Over Lal’s career it’s hard to find a receiver he’s coached with more talent than Sammy Watkins. Sanjay and Sammy were together for only two seasons, 2015 and 2016. For what it’s worth, Watkins’ best season was 2015 in terms of yards (only time he’s broken 1,000) and touchdowns (he caught nine).
When Rex Ryan was fired from Buffalo after the 2016 season, Sanjay caught on with the Indianapolis Colts. When Indy announced the move they referenced an ESPN link with a quote from Sammy praising Sanjay.
“That’s the one guy I don’t want to leave. If he leaves, I don’t how my mindset would be, honestly. That’s a guy that kind of groomed me into running routes and doing everything the right way. Mentality, both mental and physical. If he leaves, that will hurt. Because that’s the guy that kind of helped this whole group form a mentality and shape us into professionals. He gave us the whole script, off the field, on the field. I think it’s helping this wide receiver group and helping the players. If he leaves, that will hurt.”
It’s interesting that Watkins said he didn’t know how his mindset would be in a Lal-less Buffalo, because the Bills traded him to the Rams shortly before the 2017 season began. It was one of the more shocking trades of last season, and it was indicative that the new Bills regime didn’t value Sammy the same way.
Even while in Los Angeles as a Ram and with Sanjay in Indianapolis as a Colt last season, Sammy Watkins continued to praise his former position coach. Back in November he gave Sanjay credit for developing his blocking skills.
Watkins said he was a good blocker in college at Clemson, and that former Buffalo Bills receivers coach Sanjay Lal emphasized the importance of blocking.
It really is fascinating how much Sammy Watkins values Sanjay Lal. Their relationship even pre-dates Sammy’s successful 2015 campaign, actually. Watkins was praising Lal before he ever stepped on the field, during the 2015 offseason.
“He is great. He is a great coach and so far I haven’t even been on the field with him that much but my game has improved with just the little things and the details,” Watkins said. “Seeing our receivers right now become true receivers. He is teaching us how to play the game.”
He really hasn't had a receiver of Watkins’ caliber to work with since Buffalo, and now he gets his hands on Dez Bryant.
For those who might be wondering, it technically is possible for Sanjay to get his hands back on Watkins himself. While the Rams traded for him, Sammy becomes a free agent this offseason. He’s obviously looking to get paid, but failing to break 600 yards last season might hurt his stock (he did catch eight touchdowns for what it’s worth).
If Watkins and the Rams are unable to work something out this offseason and if there is no deal Sammy is too particularly pleased with, what’s to say he won’t take a one-year prove-it deal somewhere? And what better place would there be than with the coach he greatly admires, in an offense that’s looking to become more friendly for its quarterback?