Cowboys’ new WR coach left Packers for Garrett

AP Pro Football Writer

IRVING, Texas (AP) Jimmy Robinson was the receivers coach for the New York Giants when Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback about 10 years ago. They got to know each other through offensive meetings and on the nights when Garrett put in coach-like hours, staying at team headquarters long after his teammates were gone.

They became fast friends, prompting talk of one day working together. So when Garrett became coach of the Dallas Cowboys in January and began putting together his first staff, he wanted Robinson on it.

Only Robinson was busy coaching receivers for the Green Bay Packers. Garrett had to wait until the second week of February for permission to interview his pal, and Robinson was faced with deciding whether to leave the Super Bowl champions.

The choice ended up being pretty easy. Lured by Garrett and the added title of assistant head coach – plus the likely bump in salary that came with it – Robinson accepted the job last week and arrived at his new office on Monday. He jumped right into evaluating offensive schemes and getting to know his new players, including dynamic youngster Dez Bryant.

Savoring his Super Bowl title, Robinson figures, can come later.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said during a staffwide meet-the-media gathering at team headquarters Thursday. “On one hand, that’s the best time to leave, when you’ve just won a championship. But maybe it’s the worst time to leave because maybe you’d like to defend a championship and maybe win another. I just felt like for my family, for my wife and I, it really was the right time, the right opportunity, a chance to grow in the business a little bit.”

Garrett’s history with Robinson helps explain why the Cowboys dumped Ray Sherman, creating the vacancy at receivers coach. It seemed odd because of how beloved and successful Sherman was, helping Miles Austin go from afterthought to two-time Pro Bowler and keeping Bryant going as a rookie. Sherman’s departure seemed awkward, too, because he was the first person team owner Jerry Jones interviewed for the head coaching job before deciding to remove Garrett’s interim label.

But Robinson wasn’t hired merely so Garrett can have another buddy on the staff. His credentials are solid.

He’s been a receivers coach since 1990, working for the Falcons, Colts, Giants, Saints and Packers. His star pupils have included Marvin Harrison, Amani Toomer, Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth, Andre Rison, Mike Haynes and the Packers’ crew that included Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and the receiving star of the Super Bowl, Jordy Nelson.

Robinson knows what it takes in the NFL because he found a way to make it.

Despite being only 5-foot-9, he was a star receiver for Georgia Tech who lasted five seasons in the NFL in the 1970s, mostly with the Giants. It’s similar to Garrett’s playing career – an Ivy Leaguer who seemed to lack the size and arm strength of an NFL quarterback, yet he lasted 12 seasons.

“I think we both were in the mode of a kind of guy who had to fight for everything he got … maybe both overachievers to an extent,” Robinson said. “We just kind of seemed to jibe on how we thought about things.”

Robinson has worked for all sorts of coaches, from loosey-goosey Jerry Glanville to buttoned-up Mike McCarthy. That range of experience, and his history with Garrett, should make him a good sounding board for the young coach, perhaps fulfilling the assistant head coach part of his title.

“I’m certainly not here to reinvent the system and change the offense or anything like that,” Robinson said. “I’m here to bring ideas, bring creativity, ideas on how to do things structurally – as a team, as an organization, as an offense. Jason is open to ideas and those kinds of things. … I can say, `Hey, remember in New York when we did this,’ or, `Hey, here’s how we did things on Saturdays.'”

Garrett is a very process-oriented coach, often talking about stacking good days together. Robinson described himself as being that way, too.

“Details are important,” he said. “The little things add up to the big things. I talk a lot about controlling the things they can control, which is their preparation – their work habits, work ethic, study habits, preparation for the game both in game planning and opponent study.”

Being fresh off a Super Bowl title should help his credibility.

Being a longtime pal of the coach might help, too.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge, the opportunity,” Robinson said. “I think it’s going to be fun.”

Updated February 18, 2011