Player-coaches: The under-discussed advantage of the Dallas Cowboys

Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys have a pair of player-coaches who give them a substantial advantage this season – today we discuss that under-discussed advantage…

The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the amount of time coaches can spend with their players. Just like high school and college, NFL coaches cannot practice with players more than the previously agreed upon amount of time. This applies to both on the field and in the film room. But the Dallas Cowboys have a work-around…

The Dallas Cowboys have a pair of players who are both respected by the team and adored by the coaches. Most importantly, they are among the most intelligent and prepared players in the league. These two team leaders can do what coaches cannot do – educate, practice, and mentor players outside of the CBA’s restrictive rules.

Sean Lee

Anyone who knows anything about the Dallas Cowboys locker room, knows Sean Lee is a generational presence. He’s not just a former Pro Bowler but he’s arguably the most driven person on this roster over the past decade. See also: All or Nothing: Dallas Cowboys.

Most teams force captaincy on their best players and hope that’s enough to “lead”. But nothing ever needs to be forced with Sean Lee. He knows every players’ assignment and every players’ reads. He’s likely more knowledgeable than 80 percent of NFL coaches out there but he’s still just a player.

There is not an insincere bone in Lee’s body and even though he likely can’t relate to the younger generation on the Cowboys roster, he’s instantly respected. Sean Lee can work after practice with players. He can run the film room. He can encourage and hold accountable. He can do everything the coaches can do just without the restrictions.

Jason Witten

Those that know Jason Witten and his reputation may laugh at this. Witt hasn’t exactly been a “mentor” to his TE brethren, per say. He’s been more of a “lead by example” kinda guy. But that may be changing as Witt looks to build the foundation of his next career: coaching.

For years Jason Witten has been an immovable object on the field. The ironman held one of the longest consecutive starts streaks ever in the NFL before he temporarily retired to try TV. And he didn’t stop there – Witt typically lead the offensive skill players in snaps, year after year, and even when asked to leave the field he blatantly refused.

Now, Witten may not have encouraged success to those who dare take his place in the lineup, but the guy was as committed to winning as anyone ever was. Now that he’s back after being humbled a bit in his post-playing career, I expect a brand new Witten. One that wants to prove himself as a coach and mentor.

Like Lee, Witten knows everyone’s job. He’s legendary ‘round these parts – and for good reason – he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer and arguably the fourth face on Dallas’ 21st century Super Bowl Mount Rushmore. With his motivation changed, Witten can be every bit Lee is as a player-coach. Think the young guys will listen to him when he barks?

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Better yet, if Witten askes a QB, a TE, and a pair of WRs (any of them – seriously, you pick) to stay after practice to work on some plays, do you think they’ll say no? If any of those players ask him to stay late and explain the film, do you think he’ll do it? I sure do. He’s desprete for a Super Bowl and he’s eager to build an image as a coach.

The Dallas Cowboys have a pair of seemingly productive pros who are as knowledgeable about the game as anyone in the NFL. They are respected and they are motivated to win now. Ego is not a problem. How many teams can boast that?

dark. Next. Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster prediction (Camp: Wk1)

DeMarcus Lawrence and Dak Prescott also command respect, and one day, they may be at this level. But for now, Sean Lee and Jason Witten enjoy a special status on this team. It’s a status that gives the Dallas Cowboys an advantage over their competition.

  • Published on 07/26/2019 at 12:00 PM
  • Last updated at 07/26/2019 at 11:53 AM