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Postponed offseason workout program delays Cowboys new coaching regime

The Dallas Cowboys would have started their offseason workout program on Monday but the first training sessions under the new coaching staff have been postponed
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott stretches at the NFL football team's training camp in Oxnard, Calif., Monday, July 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

DALLAS — Mike McCarthy was hired to be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys a week after the calendar turned over to 2020 on January 7th. After sitting out one season and becoming reinvigorated with the game's intricacies, McCarthy’s arrival as a Super Bowl-winning coach was seen as a welcomed addition following the Jason Garrett era.

Hiring a new coach also should have given the Cowboys a small advantage when it came to getting a leg up on the competition. The NFL allows teams with a new coaching staff to get an earlier start to their offseason workout programs.

Under McCarthy, Dallas was set to get their official workouts started on Monday.

With the country virtually on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and players not being able to gather, everything has been delayed. For teams with continuity from last season, a delay to their offseason workouts might not be a huge issue, however, for the Cowboys, being unable to begin implementing plans under a new coach could be a significant problem. The Cowboys have a new regime, which includes a new strength and conditioning coach, Markus Paul.

It’s a positive that Paul worked under former strength coach Mike Woicik, but Paul likely brings some of his own ideas on how he wants his program to run. The team surely has a plan on how the workouts will be done and how to track their progress, but not being able to get together with teammates under the watchful eye of their leader is not ideal.

The extra time allotted to the Cowboys could have also been helpful in building team chemistry. Dallas usually has exceptional attendance during their offseason workouts, which can help a team grow together. That time is now lost.

This isn’t just about workouts, either, it’s the entire offseason approach. McCarthy has a plan for how he wanted to implement his offensive system, and the same can be said for Mike Nolan’s defense. For a team learning new schemes, the delay is a detriment in preparing for the season. The longer this pandemic keeps everyone from gathering together, the tougher it will be to absorb the new schemes.

The draft is also right around the corner and the process has been thrown for a loop. In-person meetings have been canceled which means it will be harder to get a good feeling on a prospect without an in-house look. There will also be no war room whiteboard breakdowns or in-depth evaluations at a Pro Day; it’s just the film and online interviews.

For a new staff that’s learning to mesh with the mainstays in the Cowboys’ scouting department, this new reality isn’t the best way to conduct their first draft together.

Team vice president of player personnel Will McClay holds a lot of sway with the Joneses when it comes to the draft. The communication on the types of players McClay likes will need to match with McCarthy and his coaches. In a year where things have changed drastically, being on the same page is critical.

Every team in the league is going through similar issues right now, trying to figure out how to proceed through difficult times. The Cowboys have just been put a little further behind the eight-ball because of a new coaching staff and new schemes being delayed from implementation.

It remains to be seen how the delays will affect Dallas when the season comes along, if it ever does.

Do you feel confident that the Cowboys will be able to learn the systems of the new coaching staff in a timely manner? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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