The Cowboys spent most of last season doing what appeared to be drawing plays in the dirt.
So it stands to reason that when they coached the Senior Bowl recently, they didn’t bother with playbooks.
Or, more accurately, they wanted to see how players reacted without them.
Via Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez said during an interview with Phil Savage on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Cowboys handed players blank notebooks at the beginning of the week, telling them to take their own notes.
“Their whole evaluation for us was, ‘How well can this guy take notes?’” Martinez said. “They didn’t give us a playbook. They basically explained it on the board. They expected us to write down good enough notes to go back to our rooms, study, and have the diligence to step on the field the next day and perform at the high level they wanted.”
Savage, who is the executive director of the Senior Bowl, said teams generally provide some form of playbook to the college players they work with for a week. But Martinez said you could tell some of his teammates were shocked by the unique approach.
“You could see the facial expressions when we were in the meetings and [the Cowboys coaches] said, ‘We’re not giving you playbooks. Take some notes,’” Martinez said. “It was like, ‘Oh, . . . I’ve never done that before.’
“I feel like it was one of those things where a lot of guys maybe at the beginning struggled but as the week went on they learned or looked at other guys to see how it’s done and what they needed to do. That kind of showed a type of player, a professional player, from that standpoint — finding a way to get that done whether it’s a weakness or strength.”
It’s an interesting learning opportunity for the Cowboys, an advance on the 15 minutes they might get to put a player on the board in Indianapolis this week at the Combine, or some insight before a longer pre-draft visit to their facility (or a reason to skip one or both altogether).
It’s also worth remembering that one of the sink-or-swim players they coached there was North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, who you think they’d have to consider at No. 4 considering how sideways their seasons have gone when Tony Romo was injured.