Costs, benefits of Zimmer’s plans to coach Cowboys’ D from sidelines

One of the special wrinkles to Dan Quinn’s coaching style over the years has been his preference to coach from the booth. As the Cowboys defensive coordinator from 2021 through 2023, perched high over the field is from where Quinn made his defensive calls. The benefits from that vantage point are clear: It allowed him a better view of all 22 players. He could better identify weaknesses and opportunities in his defense and adjust accordingly.

Mike Zimmer, the Cowboys new defensive coordinator for 2024, prefers a more in-your-face approach to coaching. Instead of coaching from the booth, Zimmer coaches from the sidelines. It’s a location he confirmed he’d be coaching from when he spoke with reporters earlier in the week.

“I’ve always been on the sideline, number one,” Zimmer said. “Number two, I want to catch them when they come [off the field] so I can talk to them.”

Which location is best really comes down to the coach himself and his preferred style of communication. In 2024, technology is such that face-to-face isn’t always necessary. Coaches can call down and talk to anyone they want, at any time. Discussions don’t require physical presence.

Quinn has traditionally been seen as a player’s coach. As such, he probably doesn’t feel the need to get in anyone’s face on the sideline when a simple conversation could be had virtually.  Zimmer, on the other hand, is known to be more authoritative in nature. Face-to-face on the sideline brings instant accountability and possibly even some intimidation. The coaching preference seems to fit each coach.

On a defense that many believed lacked accountability and discipline, Zimmer’s place on the sideline has been overwhelmingly celebrated. His presence may light a fire in some players and bring better discipline throughout. But it also comes as a cost.

Zimmer won’t have the same full view of the field Quinn had. He’ll get images and likely have a coach perched up top to communicate but he won’t have that first-hand view Quinn enjoyed. Hopefully all the benefits by standing on the sideline will make up for it but costs can’t be completely ignored.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire