Cowboys’ new WR coach left Packers for Garrett

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.”