A big part of the Dallas Cowboys’ success on defense in 2018 can be traced back to the addition of Kris Richard as secondary coach and passing game coordinator after he was let go by the Seattle Seahawks.
The improvements in the secondary, especially with cornerback Byron Jones, who has not given up a touchdown pass this season and is allowing a catch on a league-low 49 percent of the targets against him, is a direct result of Richard’s fiery touch.
But the former architect of Seattle’s famed “Legion of Boom” secondary has actually had an impact on the entire defense as a master motivator and play-caller.
He took over the play-calling from coordinator Rod Marinelli at the start of the season and has thus directed a unit that has gone from being considered a weak link on the team to its most trusted dimension while ranking fifth in the league overall and second in points per game.
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The Cowboys are the only team in the NFL that has not allowed a 30-point game all season and they give up the second-fewest big plays.
While praises should go to the play of Jones, defensive DeMarcus Lawrence and the linebacker duo of Jaylon Smith and rookie top pick Leighton Vander Esch, Marinelli said the addition of Richard has been the Cowboys “best pick ” from Day 1.
In expounding on their working relationship, the magnanimous Marinelli gushed even further.
“It’s awesome,” Marinelli said. “Everything he does I admire. The loyalty, the work ethic, the intelligence, the teaching, the inspiring – it’s special. It’s fun to come to work every day when you are around good people. He’s a special coach.”
Give Marinelli credit for welcoming a young coach who might eventually replace him, possibly as soon as next season.
The Cowboys may have to make some changes to hang on to Richard after the season as he is a hot name to watch as a future head coach. Short of that he will likely also get offers to become someone’s defensive coordinator.
Does Marinelli, 69, step aside, retire or become an assistant head coach to keep Richard in the fold?