Faith was restored in the Dallas Cowboys offensive line when the team drafted Connor Williams in the second round a few weeks ago.
Doubt began to creep in during last season when Tyron Smith went down and the Cowboys visited the Atlanta Falcons in, well, memorable fashion.
Connor isn’t the only new face around the Cowboys. There’s a new offensive line coach in town, Paul Alexander, who spent a long time with the Cincinnati Bengals. One of Alexander’s greatest students in Cincinnati was offensive tackle Willie Anderson.
These days Anderson spends his time working with offensive linemen, trying to teach them the techniques that made him successful in the NFL. From his academy’s website:
The Willie Anderson Lineman Academy is committed to enhancing the confidence, strength, determination, agility and performance of every offensive and defensive lineman under our instruction, as they strive to be the best on every level.
All of this is great. Seeing NFL players prosper in their post-playing days is what makes the game so awesome. What’s more awesome is that Anderson is going to be working with the Dallas Cowboys this week.
I will be in Dallas training with the @dallascowboys Offensive Line Wed- Friday. I’m thankful for this opportunity. 3rd NFL team that has call and wanted to utilize our services. I’ll also be training Highschool Lineman in the afternoon so contact me for your spot. #photooftheday #Dallas #Dallascowboys #offensiveline #NFL #WillieAndersonLinemanAcademy #football #training #sports #instagood #howboutthemcowboys #fashion #art #star
Anderson talks about Alexander as a teacher, but one who teaches individually, working to fit the scheme to the players, instead of the other way around.
“Great coaches learn that teachers teach,” Anderson said. “A teacher should never say, ‘I teach math.’ You should say, ‘I teach John math. I teach the student.’ That’s an important [part] of teaching. Don’t say, ‘This is my scheme and we do this.’”
In 23 years as the Bengals’ line coach, Alexander adapted. Anderson said he changed based on the personnel he had. He is not just a power-blocking line coach. He is not just a zone-blocking coach. He teaches it all, according to Anderson.
The Cowboys have been known as a zone-blocking team, but in truth, they run a variety of blocking schemes. The team took a step backward in line play last year, but hope that this season will be different.
“You take Zeke and Dak Prescott, their rookie year and that line was hailed up there with the Cowboys’ from the 1990s,” Anderson said. “Those guys were dominant. That group brought a lot of attention. As an O-line, we want attention. We want people to see how important that group is to show everybody why they were successful as a team. That’s what these guys have. Now you move Collins out to right tackle, I think he’s still learning but he’ll be better in his second year at the position. You have a dominant center and guard that can get overlooked because of how dominant Tyron is. But that’s a real good group of guys. I know Paul is ecstatic to get his hands on to them.”
Let’s hope this added work pays off for the best offensive line in the NFL.