Earlier this week, the Dallas Cowboys announced their new coaching staff. Here’s what one legendary player said was the best hire of them all.
After posting a disappointing 8-8 regular-season record, and losing a pivotal Week 16 matchup to the Philadelphia Eagles costing them the NFC East title and a playoff berth, the Dallas Cowboys eventually parted ways with longtime head coach Jason Garrett.
In Garrett’s place, the Cowboys hired former Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Mike McCarthy. And the NFL veteran, whose been in the league since 1993, promptly went about the business of replacing the coaching staff from last season.
On Monday, the Cowboys officially announced the hiring of 19 assistant coaches, only four of which were on the staff last season. Those remaining include offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier (who shifted from tight ends coach), assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett, and strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul (he was an assistant last season).
Some of the more notable names that were added to the Cowboys’ coaching staff include defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, running backs coach Skip Peete, defensive backs coach Al Harris (a former two-time Pro Bowl cornerback), and senior defensive assistant George Edwards, who served as the Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator for the past six seasons.
But which of these coaching assistants will have the biggest impact in 2020? Here’s what former Cowboys legend Nate Newton said during the Hangin’ with the Boys podcast this past week about who he believes is the best of the team’s newest hires.
"“I don’t know much about any of these guys, except I do know that the best hire on this whole sheet was John Fassel. That was the best hire they could have done. Because that was the worst special teams in probably Cowboys history that showed up on the field last year.”"
Widely considered to be one of the top special teams coaches in the NFL, ‘Bones’ Fassel has spent the last eight seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He started his NFL career back in 2005 with the Baltimore Ravens and had a four-year stint with the Oakland Raiders before landing in St. Louis in 2012.
According to Rick Gosselin’s 2019 NFL Special Teams Rankings via SI.com, the Cowboys’ special teams unit was anything but, ranking next to last (31st) on the list. The Rams ranked 20th but shined in the punting category (47.17). While Dallas was dead last in both punting yards (41.2) and net punting yards (37.2). Los Angeles did come in last in kickoff coverage (28.5 yards).
But the Rams were considered the second-best special teams unit in the NFL only two years ago, that according to FootballOutsiders.com. And Gosselin’s own ranking in 2018 had Los Angeles ranked in the top ten overall.
One main area of special teams the Dallas Cowboys really struggled with in 2019 was kickoff returns. The Cowboys posted the lowest kickoff return average in the NFL last season at 16.3. The Los Angeles Rams averaged 22.4 yards per kickoff return under John Fassel in comparison, ranking them 15th.