That’s the first word that came out of the mouth of new Cowboys secondary coach Maurice Linguist when asked what he wants in a safety. That seems to be a trend as defensive coordinator Mike Nolan also stated that he wants secondary players and can make plays on the ball and create turnovers. Linguist was interviewed recently, and before getting into the ballhawk conversation, he noted that Mike Nolan was the guy that invited him to come to Dallas and talk about coaching the Cowboys secondary. Linguist has coached all over the place at college programs with his most recent stint at Texas A&M. He was also a safety in college at Baylor. Additionally, Linguist is a Dallas native so this is a homecoming for him.
The first bit of news gleaned from the Linguist interview is that he will primarily spend his time with the safeties and the slot corners while another new hire, Al Harris, will spend most of his time working with the outside corners. Considering Linguist is a former safety, and Harris is a former cornerback, this division of labor makes sense.
When asked what kind of safeties he wants, Linguist replied:
“Ballhawks. Ball players. I mean obviously you want guys who can affect the ball. You want guys who can separate, whether its a running back or receiver, from the ball. You want guys who can go get the ball. I think a lot of defensive football is about attacking the football. It’s about your ability to be a ball disruptive player. At all 11 positions if you are looking at an elite defensive player, you want somebody who can be aggressive to the ball and go make plays on the ball.”
On getting more interceptions with the Cowboys:
“It’s something we talk about; everything begins with a mental approach, an emphasis on our mental approach. What’s going to be our mindset? Ultimately we are in the initial stages of forming what our identity is going to be. Your identity is tied to who you consistently are and what you consistently do. Obviously the ball is going to be of great emphasis as we build our entire package, our entire scheme. In order for us to do what we came here to do, a big piece of that is our ability to be disruptive at the point of attack and getting the ball back. So it’s something we’re not only make an emphasis, but you’re going to have to drill, it has to consume you, you have to be obsessed with it. So that’s going to be a big piece on how we build our unit on the back end.”
The Cowboys have recently been known as a bend-don’t-break type of defense and one that was, unfortunately, not very good at creating turnovers. It looks like the new coaching staff will put an emphasis on turnovers and talks more about being an aggressive defense that is going to attack. Attack the opponent and attack the ball. Of course, in the offseason there is always talk, and with a new coaching staff you’ll get even more talk; the proof is want happens starting in September.
Still it’s good to hear that turnovers are going to be addressed and made an emphasis. Hopefully, the results will show.
Check out the full interview.