Thursday, February 24, 2011 Updated: February 25, 3:56 PM ET
Jason Garrett's potential a big draw
By Todd Archer ESPNDallas.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- From the outside, the decisions of Jimmy Robinson and Mike Woicik to join the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff seem strange to say the least.
Only a few days after winning Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium as Green Bay's wide receivers coach, Robinson accepted the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach titles with the Cowboys. The Packers are viewed by some as a reincarnation of the 1990s Cowboys: a young team with a young star quarterback that will be a contender for years.
Jimmy Robinson left the Super Bowl-winning Packers staff and Mike Woicik left the Patriots in part because of the potential they saw in Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.
Woicik spent 11 years as New England's strength and conditioning coach, equaling the number of Super Bowl rings he earned with the Cowboys of the 1990s with Bill Belichick as the head coach and Tom Brady as the supernatural quarterback. The Patriots finished 14-2 in 2010, holders of the best record in the AFC, and they have a plethora of early-round draft picks to supplement an already strong roster.
Nothing in Green Bay or New England suggests any sort of impending downturn.
So why would they leave for a franchise that has won one playoff game since 1996 and finished 6-10 in 2010?
The answer is easy: Jason Garrett.
So powerful is the potential, which was clear after taking over a 1-7 mess when owner and general manager Jerry Jones decided to fire Wade Phillips, that two of the most respected coaches in the NFL at their positions decided to place their bets with Garrett.
"All coaches want to go where they can win," running game coordinator/offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. "Winning is the most important thing, so believe me, OK, I want to be here with Jason. Everyone thinks he's going to be a winner. Everyone has such a great respect for him that they want to follow him.
"Somebody told me a long time ago that if you're an assistant coach you want to hook your wagon to a guy you think will be a winner."
New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and defensive line coach Brian Baker had only heard about Garrett but quickly came away impressed with his organization and vision.
Ryan needed a job after he was told he would not be back in Cleveland, but he had options. Baker was a month into his new job as the University of North Carolina's defensive line coach, but was swayed to return to the NFL.
Robinson and Woicik, however, have histories with Garrett when he was a backup quarterback with the New York Giants and Cowboys.
Robinson remembers seeing Garrett in the Giants quarterbacks' room studying game film two or three hours after his teammates called it a day. There talks were not so much coach-to-player, and it led to them discussing the possibility of working together one day.
They both left the Giants after the 2003 season and reunited eight years later.
"I was just enormously impressed with his work ethic, his preparation and his demeanor, the way he carried himself," Robinson said.
Woicik and Garrett overlapped as coach and player from 1992-96, and Garrett was always the last player to leave the facility. After each practice he would ice his arm for 30 minutes. When a player was brought in for a workout, Garrett would be the quarterback throwing the passes. When Michael Irvin wanted to get in some extra work at Valley Ranch, Garrett was there for him.
Like other assistant coaches at the time, Woicik noticed.
From the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Thursday, Garrett spoke about his staff for the first time.
"One of the big things you have to do in order to be successful is pick good people," Garrett said. "That's the process we've been in for the last month in putting our staff together. Each of these guys I have some connection to in my past. Each of them I have tremendous faith and trust in as people and coaches. I think they've been at different times in their career at the top of their field. We feel that's the guy we're getting. I have a great comfort level with each of them and I'm excited to have them a part of our staff."
And you can say Robinson and Woicik have that same faith and trust in Garrett.
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.