The Dallas Cowboys overhauled their group of assistant coaches this off-season, and one of the prize hires is new secondary coach Kris Richard.
Richard spent the past three years as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator and coached the defensive backs before that (2010-2014). He is credited with developing the famed “Legion of Boom” secondary and hopes to make a similar impact with the Cowboys’ secondary. He certainly made a favorable first impression on his new squad in the first formal meetings Monday as the off-season program officially began.
“He’s exactly what we thought he was – very passionate, very enthusiastic,” safety Jeff Heath said during a recent promotional appearance for the Dallas Rattlers lacrosse team. “I think he’s going to be really good for us.”
The Cowboys don’t boast the pedigree of secondary players that Richard worked with in his time with the Seahawks. Seattle standouts Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are All-Pro safeties, and Richard Sherman was regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
But the Cowboys have young talent on the back end, and Richard already is making moves. He sees Byron Jones as a better fit at cornerback, as a longer player, a la Sherman.
“I think it’ll be a good move for me and the team,” Jones said. “It’s been something that as soon as Richard came in, that’s what he was talking about. He wanted to move me to corner, so we had a discussion and he made the move.”
Jones is on board with the decision and hopes it helps him maximize his potential. Jones expressed frustration at having just two interceptions in his first three seasons. Jones has been working this off-season at becoming more aggressive with the mindset that he’ll be able to get his hands on more balls.
Seattle has been better in the interception department than Dallas the past three seasons, with 39 picks compared to 27. But that doesn’t mean Jones is going to try to mimic any of Richard’s former players. It’s a discussion they’ve already had.
“Everyone is different,” Jones said. “You can’t copy what someone else does and try to make it work for you. You have to find what works for yourself.
“That’s important for a guy who is out there by yourself as a corner. Just find your own technique.”
Outside of that, the transition should be fairly seamless. The Cowboys and Seahawks have similar principles when it comes to playing defense. It’s just a matter of whether the talent levels stack up.
“They did it at a really high level with a lot of really good players, especially in the secondary,” Heath said. “So, personally, I liked always watching those guys, trying to see stuff that they see. How do they make all the plays they make?
“So I’m excited to kind of have a little bit of inside information with coach Richard being here as to what made them so successful.”