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Rod Marinelli on Cowboys new defensive back coach Kris Richard, “This guy’s special”

There’s a new coach in town and he’s already making a favorable impression.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason of the Dallas Cowboys has been so full of change. All-Pro players from the past have been cut, Hall of Famers of the future have retired, and a few trades have landed some new faces in new places. But the shake up of players is just the half of it as the team has shuffled their coaching staff this offseason, bringing in several new position coaches. Kris Richard is one of those coaches.

The Cowboys hired Richard to replace linebackers coach/passing-game coordinator Matt Eberflus, who left to become the defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. Richard has been coaching the Seattle Seahawks the last eight years, working as their defensive backs coach and then spending the last three seasons as the defensive coordinator. The Seahawks cleaned house this offseason, making several coaching changes, including the firing of Richard.

Richard had a lot of success with Seattle as their defense had been one of the best units in the league over his tenure and included the star-studded defensive back group known as the Legion of Boom. But the success has slipped a bit as of late. After helping the Seahawks defense lead the league in fewest points allowed in 2014 and 2015, they dropped down to third in 2016. Last year, the defense fell to 13th, however, it cannot go unnoticed that they suffered injuries to All-Pro defensive backs Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman.

Richard now looks to bring that same level of awesomeness to Dallas and early indications are that he’s already making a good impression with the team.

We’ve been waiting so long for someone to have “it” so this is great news. Now, the only question is - what can he do with “it” in Dallas?

Richard didn’t waste any time trying to model his success in Seattle as he attempts to add some size to the Cowboys cornerback group by shifting Byron Jones back to corner. When asked why these type of corners work better in his system, his response was:

“Length, strength create issues at the line of scrimmage. We want to cause as many problems as we can for an offense before the ball is even snapped. If we’re up there at the line of scrimmage and we’re making you think about where you need to go and how you’re going to get around me, it’s a whole lot better than you just thinking about where you need to go.”

Jones is just one of several 6-foot-plus corners the team has on the roster. This also bodes well for second-year players like Chidobe Awuzie and Marquez White. Awuzie has all the athletic attributes and is looking to build off a good rookie season while White is hoping to make the team after spending last year on the practice squad. The Cowboys didn’t draft any new cornerbacks this year, but there is a noticeable trait in all of their UDFA corner prospects - Kam Kelly (6’2”), Donovan Olumba (6’2”) and Charvarius Ward (6’1”). They all have length.

Of course, one of the Cowboys better corners is up-and-coming second-year player Jourdan Lewis who is only 5’10”. When ask about Lewis, Richard’s response was:

“Every now and then there is an exception to the rule. He is an exception. There aren’t many guys who battle in the fashion he does, and that’s what makes him special. He’s tenacious, got good enough length, he’s quick, he anticipates, he’s smart, he’s relentless, those are the exceptions.”

There is no lack of fiery spirit when it comes to Lewis and that was evident when we watched him battle it out with Dez Bryant on All or Nothing.

Richard was asked what the Legion of Boom really meant and what characteristics can carry over to the Cowboys.

“It was a standard of excellence, a standard of love, a standard of brotherhood. That’s all it meant. It was that each-one/teach-one, everyone cares for one another, and everyone can count on one another. More than being accountable, it was more about being dependable. Mistakes happen and it’s like ‘that was my fault, I’m accountable.’ How about be dependable and not allowing those mistakes to happen.”

That has to be refreshing to Cowboys fans. Owning up to a mistake is fine and all, but not allowing that mistake to happen in the first place seems like a more desirable option. Hopefully, Richard’s influence can help improve the secondary and limit big plays. He has a lot of young talent to work with and if last year was any indication - that’s a great place to start.

The Cowboys took some good steps in filling some big holes that hurt them last year. The offensive line is better, the linebacker group is stronger, and they have an assortment of wide receivers who are skilled at creating separation. The opportunity is there for the Cowboys to show improvement in several different areas, and that includes the play of their secondary. If they have the right tools for the job and a person who knows how to use them, that could lead to good things in Dallas. Richard looks like he could be that person.

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