With football season being a few weeks away, I have been anxiously awaiting Dallas Cowboys training camp news. Desperate for anything Cowboys’ related, I have been watching some of the reruns of HBO’s Hard Knocks Training Camp on NFL Network that featured the Dallas Cowboys. I noticed the impact and importance of coaching by both players and coaches.
The Dallas Cowboys’ roster, as of June 26,2013, only quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and safety Will Allen have ten or more years of NFL experience. The roster has more than 20 rookies and 15 players with one year of experience. It is a mistake to calculate the average age of the entire roster because the average age of the starters provides a more realistic view of the team’s age.
The average age of a team is usually spun in two ways. A head coach will proudly claim that he has a young team. This can be translated as: fast, yet mistake prone. On the other hand, a coach will boast about his veteran team which means: experienced, savvy, intelligent, yet missing a step. In my opinion, the best combination is a coachable, young team with veteran leadership.
Most aired footage of HBO’s Hard Knocks showed rookie tight end, Martellus Bennett being told by coaches to emulate Witten. I noticed there was little footage shown of Witten giving instructions or tips to Bennett directly. Running back Marion Barber led by example with Felix Jones, but wasn’t captured giving advice either. The exception was wide receiver Terrell Owens, who felt secure in his roster spot. Owens was often shown giving advice to fellow receivers Miles Austin, Sam Hurd and Patrick Crayton.
Terrell Owens seemed to be the player that believed in making those around him better. That may be the exception instead of the rule because Player/Coaches are in a tough spot. You don’t want the new guy to hurt the team, yet you don’t want him to take your spot on a roster with limited positions. In the NFL, competition is the only constant.
Progress and player development is important. Each year, a player’s goal should be to trend upwards by improving upon their stats from last season. It shouldn’t matter if the coaching that helps a player progress comes from a fellow teammate or the coach.
This off-season veteran players must step up and become leaders. Similar to the rookie symposium, where rookies get advice about being an NFL player off the field, our players need to share tips so everyone improves on it.
The announcement of Tony Romo taking a bigger role and more responsibility may have grabbed headlines. The goal is to make the Dallas Cowboys a better team overall. That means Player/Coach is a title all of our veteran players need to accept.