When a football team talks about improving by changing the coaching, we often think of the head coach, or at least the coordinators. This year, for the Cowboys, it’s all about the assistant coaches. Sanjay Lal at wide receiver, Paul Alexander on the offensive line, even Kellen Moore for the quarterbacks. But one guy is getting more ink than all those other guys combined, and that guy is secondary coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard.
Players and other coaches can’t stop gushing about him. While the hope is that he can take a young-but-talented secondary and mold them into a force not unlike the Legion of Boom that he helped create in Seattle, we may see the real effect of his coaching in a single veteran.
Nick Eatman roped me into an article he wrote with this clever headline: Stay With Me Here, But Could Bryon Jones Be The Next Flozell Adams? I couldn’t resist seeing what that was all about. And as I found out it all comes back to Kris Richard. Eatman posits that Richard might be able to elevate Byron Jones’ game like Bill Parcells once did for Flozell Adams.
When Parcells was hired back in 2003, Adams was coming off some lackluster seasons. Even though he was a second-round pick that many thought had first-round talent, Adams hadn’t flourished in Dallas. So much so, that there was a consensus that the Cowboys might let him walk in free agency. Parcells was having none of that.
So in 2003, most people assumed the Cowboys would either let Adams walk in free agency, or try to get him back at a minimal contract.
Parcells comes in … the Cowboys give him the franchise tag.
What? This guy? For what? Well, Parcells had a vision. He knew 6-7, 320-pound left tackles don’t grow on trees, and he felt like with better coaching, Adams could be something.
He was. Flozell made the Pro Bowl in five of the next six years and ended his time as one of the best left tackles the Cowboys have ever had.
Eatman goes on to wonder if Kris Richard have the same kind of success with Byron Jones? It’s a tantalizing prospect. Jones is certainly better at covering players than he was at diagnosing running plays and taking proper angles to make tackles. While he may look like he would be a perfect safety specimen, he just never seemed to get comfortable in that role. So much so that there was chatter about whether the Cowboys would even pick up his fifth-year option. With Richard on board, they picked up that option and he has a definite plan for Jones.
Richard, who said he evaluated Jones as a cornerback coming out of college in 2015, talked about him this past weekend at the rookie minicamp.
“Prototypical (corner),” Richard said of Jones. “Fantastic athlete. Great height, size, length, speed. Everything is there. He has a great attitude. He’s been working hard from Day 1. I’m happy to be around him.”
We’re putting a lot of faith in Kris Richard, but you can do that when a guy has skins on the wall. His success in Seattle, in creating a secondary that was so good its nickname was known all around football, deserves that kind of respect.
By the end of the 2018 season, it will be interesting to look back and see how much of an effect he has on the defense in Dallas. One quick way to tell might be to look at how well Byron Jones plays at cornerback.