'A Blank Slate': Why New Cowboys Special-Teams Coach Fassel Won't Look Backward

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - If you are a Dallas Cowboys fan, you have a reason to not wish to re-watch the club's 2019 work on special teams - in short, because there ain't much to see.

That's among the two reasons new Dallas special-teams coordinator John "Bones'' Fassel isn't interested in dealing too much with what came before him.

"I can't answer to that,'' Fassel said on Monday in a group visit here inside The Star. "I'm going into this with a blank slate for myself and for every person who has been on this team.''

The guys on this roster who participated on special teams last year - when Dallas settled in as the NFL's second-poorest group - appreciate that. Fassel. 47, who was with the Los Angeles Rams starting in 2012 and has become a touted teams guru, doesn't fully have a "blank slate'' when it comes to how he approached the job.

"A lot of the successes that come with special teams have to do with intangibles," Fassel said on Monday. "The personnel is a huge part of it, and the player development is a huge part of it. But when you can get a group of running backs, linebackers, tight ends, receivers, DBs to become cohesive and make it seem like those guys are valuable to a team, that's probably the biggest component to being successful on special teams.

"That's kind of my message to them: 'You're important to this football team.'"

Fassel is known as an aggressive innovator. And the son of former NFL head coach Jim Fassel is known as both a teacher and a student of the game. That will not change. ... though Fassel is talking of "reinventing'' himself.

"I've only been here a week but I'm starting to dive into a little reinvention of myself, whether it's schematics or progression of technique install," Fassel said. "When I come to a new team, I say, 'What have I done in the past that I liked, and what have I done in the past that I can do better?' It's a chance for me with a new team to just reinvent myself and think about all the things I've done and how I can do it better."

The 2019 Cowboys struggled in most ever special-teams department. Reliable punter Chris Jones dipped. They changed kickers. Coverage was poor. Decision-making, from head coach Jason Garrett on down, was muddled and awful.

So no ... let's not look back. For our own sanity.

"I look forward to building it how I want to build it,'' Fassel said of the 2020 Cowboys. "What's happened here in the past, I can't speak of that. I look forward to teaching the players and getting them to be prideful in what they do."