Developer Chat

General WhatIfSports

Dan Reeves

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EST

The LIVE portion of this chat will begin on

Tuesday, December 5, 2006 at 7:00 PM EST.

Welcome everyone to our second Legends of the Game chat with former NFL player and head coach and current NFL analyst Dan Reeves.

How did you get involved in coaching and what advice would you give someone interested in coaching? (bosox1113 - All-Star - 8:08 PM)

I got in an unusual way because coaching is not something I ever thought about doing. Growing up I thought I may be a lawyer, fireman etc. My dad had a farm so I may have done that. When I got out of college though, I got an opportunity to play football and made the Dallas Cowboys. I was the starting tailback for three years before tearing my knee up. In 1969, I was beat out by Calvin Hill. After that season, coach Landry asked if I was interested in being a player coach. I was a player/coach for three years. In 1973, I was in private business, but I really missed football and was able to get back into the league in 1974 as the Cowboys' Special Teams coach. I learned from the best in Tom Landry and I owe him my career. I guess there was something he saw in me thinking I could be a head coach.

Who is the toughest player you ever played with or coached? (bravesfan302 - Pro - 8:09 PM)

Oh gosh. I will probably leave some people out. Our intrasquad game was always tough with Bob Lilly, Leroy Jordan, Mel Renfro, etc. We had so many good players on defense. We dreaded that game more than any other. When we played those guys, it always made us better. Tom Jackson, Billy Thomson and the entire Denver Broncos Orange Crush defense had great players on it. I have been fortunate enough to have been associated with some great teams and some strong players. Steve Atwater, Phil Simms, Jessie, Tuggle, Lawrence Taylor. You just don't win a lot of football games without a lot of great players. John Elway was not one of the toughest ones, but he was the toughest to defend. 39 years of football and that list will get long. I could spend the next hour talking about those guys.

will you ever go back to coaching football at any level (robinsoncano - Newbie - 8:12 PM)

You know "never" is a bad word. I would never say that I would not go back. When I left in 1973 I missed it immediately and came right back. If the right opportunity came along, I would jump at it. I am not sure what the right opportunity is. I am not quite ready to accept every challenge, but I would love to be associated with an organization that had fun, won and understood what it is all about.

Who do you believe is the best QB you ever coached or coached against? (bravesfan302 - Pro - 8:13 PM)

I'd say that Don Meredith and Roger Staubach were two of the best quarterbacks that I have ever been around. Craig Morton and John Elway were the two guys who stood out from my coaching career in Denver. Elway could hurt you in so many ways. He was a great competitor. Phil Simms is another guy from the Giants. Throwing the football in Giants Stadium is one of the most difficult things to do in this world. They should put him in the Hall of Fame now. And Mike Vick will be very good. Chris Chandler was not bad either. Making a Super Bowl is tough. Chris Chandler threw the deep ball better than anyone I had ever seen. He was extremely bright and could execute plays. But it was Staubach and Meredith who started it all for me.

If you were Bill Parcells right now, how would you deal with the Terrell Owens situation? (mrturtle - Prospect - 8:14 PM)

I just keep getting Tony Romo to get the ball to him and to make everyone look good. Terrell Owens is a very talented player. Parcells has done a great job of handling him. He is never singled out and is performing. If you look at Bill Parcells career and see the personalities he has coached, he has done a great job of handling so many different players. He always pushes the right buttons for the right guys. The Cowboys have been able to stay healthy this year too so that makes the situation look great too. Health and wins make everything seem better.

You recently compared Jay Cutler to John Elway, obviously high praise. Does this mean that you would have made the same decision as Shanahan and benched Plummer in favor of Cutler? Why do you think he chose this point in the season to make the switch? (JConte - All-Star - 8:16 PM)

There is no way I would know if I would have made that change or not. Looking at him on film in college, Cutler reminded me in the way that he did things of Elway. He can scramble, has a strong arm and did many of the same things as Elway. Because of the Broncos offense with the bootleg and shifting the pocket, I thought that was a great place for him to go. I thought a veteran like Plummer would help. You never know how long a veteran like Plummer can play. To make a decision like that you have to look at all the games and know what you have. If I had it to do over again, I would have waited like Mike did to start Elway later in the season. Elway struggled with terminology. We sent every play in at that time so it was difficult for him to make quick decisions because he was behind on terminology. Later in the season was like night and day for Elway. Cutler would not have as many of those issues coming in late in the season. I think I was trying to say more or less that their first seasons will look similar.

Having participated in so many, what is something that the average fan may not know or be surprised to know about the Super Bowl? (schmoldty - Newbie - 8:17 PM)

Fans may not understand how different it is when the team has two weeks to get ready. Every team gets in a rhythm and routine and then all of the sudden every thing changes. When do we get them the gameplan? How much do we practice? Most people do not understand how much that layoff shakes things off. Injury situations can change. Schemes can change because of those injuries. Of course you are asking the wrong guy about the Super Bowl having not won one as a head coach. People may not also understand how much of a media zoo it is. When players are used to certain things and all of that is amplified, it is different. Now all 32 teams worth of media are focusing on two teams. On top of that you end up worrying about tickets and accomodating friends and family. Everyone you have not heard from since the first grade wants a ticket and a hotel room. The distractions make it a different game. Usually the team that handles the distractions the best comes out on top.

How do you view the game differently as an analyst as opposed to as a player or coach? (zchild - Newbie - 8:17 PM)

I did spend a couple of years as an offensive coordinator in the press box. I was on the field for the other 37 of my 39 years though and that is a completely different view. You can see everything in the game much easier from the box. I know where the quarterback should go and where the holes are, but now I can see them. On radio, I try to give everyone a picture of what is going on. I don't like to second guess because it is so much easier after the play. But I try to give people a perspective of the head coach and what he is thinking and why things are going on. It's a chess match. It's amazing how much more you can see. It's a lot simpler game up there without the 300 pounders coming at you.

What is your opinion on Michael Vick, specifically regarding Jim Mora Sr.'s recent comments calling him a "coach killer?" (mykids_31206 - Hall of Famer - 8:19 PM)

Mike's the farthest thing in the world from a coach killer. I have never been around a more cooperative quarterback than Michael Vick. He wants to win, will do whatever you ask and is very coachable. I think Jim's comments were taken out of context and I know that Jim Jr. definitely does not agree with that sentiment. Michael Vick always gives a team a chance. He's going to have some games that make you scratch your head, but he can change every game with one play. And that makes him a great quarterback. He is sort of like Michael Jordan. When the game is on the line, he wants the ball. If they continue to improve the supporting cast around him they definitely have a chance to win a Super Bowl. If you look at the Atlanta Falcons, they have been hurt. An improved, healthy supporting cast can get them where they want to be. A lot of the teams that are 6-6 have some great QBs, but have been riddled with health issues. Injuries can make a team mediocre very quickly.

What do you think abou the new rules on keeping the qb as safe as possible? Do you think there are to many? (saint66 - Hall of Famer - 8:20 PM)

Well I think that position needs to be protected as much as possible. The interpretation of the rule is what needs to be looked at. I heard a discussion about this recently where an analyst said that he likes to see the players play and not all of these penalties. I disagree. The rules need to be enforced. There should be no make up calls and there is no lee-way in the rules. Rules are not meant to be opinions. A blow to the head should be like the facemask rule where there are minor or major penalties. Helmet-to-helmet should be 15 and incidental can be five yards. But there should not be anyone focusing on calling some rules on not focusing on enforcing others. The rules are the rules and they should not be up to the official. There are a lot of rules that are not always called or always enforced strictly. Then they will call them in crucial situations. Every rule needs to enforced always.

Who were your favorite players growing up?? Did you ever get to play with or against any of your "FAVORITES"? (kingdms - Hall of Famer - 8:21 PM)

I was a quarterback in high school and college and my idol was Johnny Unitas. I will never forget in 1970 playing in the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida. I remember taking calisthenics and looking up and seeing the number 19 jersey with the horseshoe on his helmet looking back to me. He was everything I hoped he would be when I met and talked with him as well. Nicest guy I had met. I wish everyone's idol growing up was as good a role model for them as he was for me.

Do you ever find yourself breaking out into the Dirty Bird? (schmoldty - Newbie - 8:22 PM)

(laughs) No because I realized how stupid I looked trying to dance next to Jamal Anderson who has all that rhythm. I figure I have done my last Dirty Bird. That was a really fun year though. To see a group of players who had all been through some tough times get that close was a great experience.

What was your most memorable season out of the 23 to your name? (whodeyfan91 - Pro - 8:22 PM)

Don't forget the 16 as a player. But my first year as a coach was the most memorable. We beat the defending champion Oakland Raiders in Mile High Stadium in the first game. Then in the last game of the season we lost to the Chicago Bears and just missed the playoffs. I was so crushed. A few years later was another great year. We beat Cleveland in The Drive to go my first Super Bowl. That kicked off a run of three Super Bowls in four years. None of those ended the way I wanted to, but that was a great run. 1998 with Atlanta was a recent season that was another great year.

Describe the Ice Bowl. (zchild - Newbie - 8:23 PM)

Coooooollllllddddd. I was from the South and had played only a couple of cold games in college. We played the University of Detroit and that was 12 degrees and it was not too bad. But this was different. I thought 32 was freezing and it would never feel much worse than that. The day before that game it was 15 above and we actually worked up a sweat at practice. Then we got up that morning, threw on a coat and tie before the game. Then we threw on an overcoat and had to sprint to the bus to stay warm. Come to find out it was 17 below zero. That was the first time I had ever realized that going from 15 above to 17 below was the same as going from 70 to 102. The sun was not out and the wind was blowing. The chill factor was something like 50-60 below. The referee blew the whistle to start the game and pulled the skin of his lip off after it. In that game I had a tooth knocked through my lip and it did not even bleed because it was so cold. Every breath made my throat feel like it was on fire.

Who is the best player ever from the University of South Carolina? Sterling Sharpe? George Rogers? Dan Reeves? Sidney Rice? And do you think Spurrier is the best coach for that job? (buzzardbill - Prospect - 8:24 PM)

George Rogers won the Heisman and had a tremendous career. When I was there it was all about Ken Dixon and Alex Hawkins. Those are probably the three best. I was not a great player. I was a long ways from being great. I started three years at quarterback and the best team we had was my first one. I enjoyed my experience there, but I just loved to play; I was not great. Steve has done a tremendous job. He has put together two great recruiting classes. They are awful close to putting a team on the field that could be favored every week.

Do you think that the great teams of the 70's such as Pittsbugh, Dallas, Miami would be as good in todays NFL with the same players? (riff310 - Hall of Famer - 8:26 PM)

Yeah I do. Those teams were all fundamentally sound. I think that it is hard for teams nowadays to do that, particularly with blocking and tackling. It is hard to simulate game speed and the physicality of the game with the limited full-speed, full-pad practices in high school, college and the pros. Then in the pros, with the salary cap and only 80 man training cap rosters and 53 man rosters it is hard to practice enough fundamentals. Blocking and tackling suffer. Has it hurt the game? No because everyone is the same way. All of the dynasty teams that we think about from the past like the Steelers and Cowboys have been sound fundamentally top to bottom. If you took the athletes we have today and were able to train them in the same way and as much as we were trained, they would be much, much better. We had longer training camps, more practices and six preseason games to get it all right.

What is your greatest coaching or player accomplishment? (saint66 - Hall of Famer - 8:28 PM)

My greatest player accomplishment was making the Dallas Cowboys. Going from a quarterback in college and in high school to starting in my second year in the NFL is something I am extremely proud of. I was in the perfect place at the perfect time. To be able to be a head coach in this league for 23 years straight was great as well. There were some coaches who did it before me like Landry and Shula, but there is so much more pressure with today's game. With the salary cap and media the way it is today, it will be hard for another coach to do that.

What are some of the more creative conditioning drills you've used? (mumcoach - Hall of Famer - 8:30 PM)

The best conditioning drills go back to Landry and Lombardi. Half-Gassers, Grass Drills and Woah and Go's were tough. The grass drill gets you running from a two-point stance where you bounce up and down on the whistle and the have bear crawl before jumping right back. Running Woah and Go's where you run 20 yards stop and drop and then get up and sprint again for another 20 yards were probably the hardest thing I have ever done physically. We would go for 120 yards. Do that about 10 times and that's as tough as it gets. Now they have all kinds of things but nothing tougher than Half-Gassers, Grass Drills and Woah and Go's.

How do you feel about the replay challenge system that is currently used in the NFL and should the NFL even have one? (hands24 - All-Star - 8:31 PM)

I really think it should be done just like they do in the two minute period and in college where they review every play in the booth and stop for critical plays. I don't like it tied to timeouts. Timeouts are too vital and coaches should not have that pressure. When they first had instant replay it was the best. I also think they should add a part where any time a team runs and play and it is close and they are trying too hard to run to the line and get the next play off, that play should be reviewed. There is nothing good about trying to make a bad play legal. Another college rule that I like and would like to see changed in the NFL is the one-foot in bounds rule. I like that better than trying to decide if a player would have gotten two in bounds. Judgements like that should never be up to the official.

What did you look for players in coming out of college? Did you have a preference as to a particular conference or coach or system? (swolek20 - Newbie - 8:33 PM)

You look at a lot of different things. Certainly, ability trumps all regardless of conference, part of the country, coach or system. After ability, it is important to find out what makes the guy tick. It's not just how they play the game, it's how they live there life. You can take some of the greatest players in the world and if they are not team players and there are no leaders among them you are not going to be successful. The best thing about the football is the team and it takes a team to win.

Thank you very much for participating in our Legends of the Game chat with Dan Reeves. It's been great being able to pick the mind of a former NFL player and head coach who has participated in more Super Bowls, 9, than anyone else. For more information regarding upcoming chats, please click here.

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