Will Allen: Everything 'tight' in Dallas
"It was a very micromanaged atmosphere," Allen told Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday night. "Everything was heightened. Everything was very tight. I didn't feel the relationship and the bonding between players and coaches. Maybe just the players. Or maybe just a few coaches and a few players.
More from ESPN.com
Former Cowboys defensive back Will Allen's criticism of the culture that plagues the team is misguided, writes Tim MacMahon. Blog
"I think that's the rift that you get, and everybody wonders why Dallas can't finish, why Dallas isn't completing everything it needs to. The players are great. The players are tremendous. The coaches are some of the best in the business. You just need a cohesion there that allows players and coaches to really execute and do their jobs and it's not something hanging over their heads, that if they mess up you're going to get cut or you're not going to play or not going to do this. That's not fun for anybody."
Allen started the 5-5 Cowboys' first two games before he was replaced by rookie J.J. Wilcox. He didn't play in their third game but subbed in their fourth and fifth. He was released on Oct. 8 and has since rejoined the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had nine tackles in four games in Dallas to go with an interception and three passes defensed.
"I'm not sure what role it played in them releasing me, but they didn't feel like I, as if I, fit in their scheme or their organization," Allen said. "It's probably true. I have a lot of respect for the coaches there. I have a lot of respect even for Jerry Jones, but obviously it didn't fit. I wasn't the player they thought I would be or that I am."
For years, one of the criticisms of the Cowboys, with owner and general manager Jerry Jones so involved, was a lack of accountability. Veterans or high draft picks would be handed jobs and keep them based on status, not on performance.
Jason Garrett has attempted to change that attitude since taking over as coach. In addition to Allen's jettisoning, Orlando Scandrick continued to start over Morris Claiborne at cornerback once Claiborne's injured shoulder healed. Mackenzy Bernadeau was replaced by Brian Waters at right guard. Tight end Gavin Escobar, a second-round pick, has not been able to beat out James Hanna.
Allen said the atmosphere is different in Pittsburgh.
"Everybody's given a chance to prove themselves, given a chance to play together and the guys we truly sincerely believe in everyone," Allen said. "The coaches believe in the players. The players believe in the coaches, and you just see this even path now. If guys are consistently not performing, you're not going to be on the field. Obviously you're not going to play. But everybody is encouraging, everybody is uplifting, everybody is pushing for everybody's best. That's what you want. We understand that it's a business, but football is a business. Winning is our business. But if we're not a team, if we're not together in it all, then we have nothing. That's the mindset in Pittsburgh."
In six games with the Steelers, Allen has nine tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and one pass defensed.