New Cowboys safety Brodney Pool had perhaps his worst pro season last year.
The numbers say so. A career-low 34 tackles and three passes defensed with the New York Jets.
He says so.
“Last year, I didn’t have my best year. For whatever reason, I struggled a little bit,” he said after an OTA practice in May. “I’m back with Rob, and he just told me to go out there and play football and make plays, and that’s why I’m here.”
The Cowboys believe Pool, signed to a one-year contract, will make plays now that he has been re-united with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. When they were together in Cleveland in 2009, Pool had his best year as a pro, with four interceptions, 10 passes defensed and 48 tackles in only 11 games.
“He’s a very athletic guy, a very rangy guy,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s got a good feel for playing. His big thing is trying to understand what we’re doing. He’s got a little bit of a jump being around Rob before.”
Pool has 13 career interceptions since being drafted in the second round by Cleveland in 2005. He had 11 interceptions in five years with the Browns. He had one each in 2010 and 2011 with the Jets.
So why did his best year come under Ryan?
“I think it was the type of coach he was,” Pool said. “He wants his players just to make plays. That’s the best thing about playing for him. He’s always got your back, and he wants you to go out and perform at your best. He’s just a great guy all the way around.”
Pool said making plays on the ball is not about an individual, but about the whole defense doing its job.
“It’s a collective effort by the group,” he said. “I think guys know that this year, we’ve got to make more plays on the ball. We have the talent to do it. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”
Pool said he learned about playmaking from his first coaches – his parents.
“The thing about it is, my parents are big football fans,” he said. “And they taught me that once the ball is in the air, it’s yours. That’s always been my mindset. When the ball is in the air, it’s mine. My mom is a coach, and my dad and my stepdad played football. And they all relayed that to me.”
-- Carlos Mendez