The Dallas Cowboys are trying to create something new with their offense while staying true to some of their core philosophies on offense. To do that, they had to part ways with Scott Linehan, and then chose to elevate Kellen Moore from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. That left a vacancy on the coaching staff and the team filled it with veteran quarterback, and former Cowboys backup, Jon Kitna.
Kitna had a very long career in the NFL so he’s seen it all, and he will use some of that experience to improve the play of current quarterback Dak Prescott. Kitna is known in coaching circles as a teacher, a guy who will want to make sure fundamentals are sound and drill in those things with repetition. He will also use his experience in the league to help Prescott improve his reads and feel in the pocket. For all of Prescott’s good qualities, his tendency to hold the ball and his sometimes poor feel for the pocket have caused sacks that could have been avoided. The Cowboys took 56 sacks last season, far too many.
Kitna is working with Prescott to get through his progressions quicker and improve his pocket presence.
I just try to give constant feedback of... in that coverage, when we get that coverage, I know that the progressions starts here [but] you can move through it fairly quickly [because] unless they mess it up you’re not going to get that throw. That kind of stuff is just from experience of playing the game. — Jon Kitna
Kitna wants Prescott to see the coverage either pre-snap or immediately after the snap if it’s been disguised, then quickly know where the open man is going to be so he can work through his progressions quicker. No need to waste too much time on routes that should be covered.
New quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna, who played 14 seasons in the league including two as Cowboys quarterback, will work to alleviate those sacks. He’s emphasized footwork with Prescott this offseason, as well as the importance of becoming a “pocket engineer.” Kitna is showing Prescott that sometimes an inch or two readjustment in the pocket will change his strength, release and accuracy.
“A lot of times pressure that a quarterback is under can be self-inflicted because you’re not where you’re supposed to be in the pocket,” Kitna said Wednesday. “The good quarterbacks over time, the ones that last, they know how to create their own space like a jump shooter gets their own shot off in basketball. Same thing in football: How do I create space so I can be on time and get this throw where I want it to be?”
While Kitna is working on improving things, he’s not suggesting that he needs to revamp Prescott’s game. He also thinks Prescott’s throws are similar to a former great in the league.
We’re not going to come in here and try to revamp people, and you don’t need to with [Prescott]. I’ve said this already, I had the chance to play with Warren Moon in my second and third years and I feel like [Prescott] throws the ball very similar to Warren. It’s one of the tightest spirals you’ll ever see. — Jon Kitna
Prescott’s took that as a high compliment.
“I don’t know what to say. I just take it,” Prescott said. “He played forever, Hall of Famer, he can throw it. I don’t know what to say. Appreciate it, keep getting better.
“Warren could throw.”
Here is the Kitna interview plus some other stuff from the recent OTA session.