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The Coaching Legacy of Tom Landry

The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, “America’s Team”, have enjoyed success on and off the field for over 30 years. They are a fan favorite in the state of Texas, across the United States and overseas as well. It’s the play on and off the field, and the individuals who have contributed to it, that is at the heart of the Cowboys’ great success.

Throughout its franchise history, the Dallas Cowboys have had a number of stars whose skills and accomplishments have created legends and contributed to Dallas Cowboys history. Countless players donned the one-star, blue-and-white Dallas Cowboys jerseys and took to the field at Texas Stadium. In doing so, some of them, like Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett have become legends.

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most successful teams in National Football League history and hold many league records, thanks to these players and countless others over the years. However, it’s not just the players who have contributed to the Cowboys’ success, it’s also the ones who walk the sidelines in every practice and game. Tom Landry was one of those men. Indeed, he walked the sidelines as coach of the Dallas Cowboys for a remarkable twenty-nine years.

During Landry’s reign as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys from the franchise’s inception in 1960 until his departure in 1989, the team set a number of records. One such record is the number of consecutive winning seasons – 20 in all – from 1966 to 1985. Also, under Landry’s reign, the Cowboys were Super Bowl champions twice. The list of team records in Dallas Cowboys history set during Landry’s reign goes on and on.

Tom Landry, originally from Texas, attended the University of Texas before interrupting his studies to serve in the United States Air Force during World War II. Upon his return from the war, he returned to college where he played fullback and defensive back in the Texas Longhorns New Year’s Game winners in 1948 and 1949. From 1949 to 1955, Landry played defensive back in the NFL where in 1954 he was drafted. as a pro. During his last two years as a player, he also served as an assistant coach. In just 80 games, Landry had 32 interceptions. Early in the 1956 season, Landry turned to full-time coaching duties as defensive coordinator with the New York Giants (his last team as a player). The team’s offensive coordinator was none other than Vince Lombardi. Under these two men, the Giants made three NFL championship appearances from 1956 to 1959.

In 1960 Landry became the first head coach of the new Dallas Cowboys franchise – a position he would hold for 29 seasons (1960-88). The early years for the Cowboys were tough, but Landry’s hard work and determination slowly paid off as they scored 10 wins in the 1966 season and made it to the NFL Championship Game. Dallas lost the game, but it was the start of what would be their 20-year stretch of winning seasons.

During Tom Landry’s tenure, the Dallas Cowboys became two-time Super Bowl champions (1972, 1978), won 5 NFC titles, 13 division titles, and Landry compiled the 3rd most wins of all time for an NFL coach with a 270-178-6 record. . His 20 career playoff wins are the most by any coach in NFL history. One of the most impressive accomplishments is his team coaching record of 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966-1985), an NFL record and one of the longest winning streaks in professional sports.

Landry brought many innovations to the game during his NFL coaching days. During his time as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, Tom Landry revolutionized defensive play with the introduction of the now popular 4-3 defense. It featured four linemen down (two ends and two defensive tackles on either side of the offensive center) and three linebackers – middle, left and right. Landry’s innovation was the center linebacker he had moved up and down two yards. Previously, a lineman was placed above center. Landry also invented and popularized the use of keys (offensive trend analysis) to determine what the offense might do.

Vince Lombardi, coach of the Green Packers at the time Landry was hired as coach of the Dallas Cowboys, had implemented a “Run to Daylight” idea, where rather than a specific hole, the running back ran into a open space. Landry decided the way to stop him was to take away the daylight and so he refined his own 4-3 defense thus creating the “Flex Defense” – a defense that altered its alignment to counter what the attack could do. The Flex Defense was also innovative in that it was a zone run defense as each defender was responsible for a given gap zone and had to stay in that zone before they knew where the play was going. .

After inventing the Flex Defense, Landry invented an attack to score on it by reviving the moving man and shotgun formation. Landry’s biggest contribution in this area was the use of the “pre-switch” where the offense would switch from one formation to another before the ball snapped. Although this tactic is not new, it has been around since the turn of the 20th century, Landry was the first coach to use the approach on a regular basis, the idea being to break the keys used by the defense to determine what the attack could do.

Known as a quiet, religious man, Landry took it all in stride and wasn’t fazed by all the hype surrounding Cowboys football and Team USA. Landry’s twenty-nine years with the team ended shortly before the 1989 season when the Cowboys were sold to Jerry Jones. Landry was replaced by Jimmy Johnson, Jerry Jones’ former teammate at the University of Arkansas. Landry’s unceremonious dismissal is, to this day, seen as a classless and disrespectful act on Jones’s part. Landry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame less than two years after his last game. In 1993, Landry was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.

Tom Landry died of leukemia at the age of 75 in Dallas on February 12, 2000. The Dallas Cowboys wore a patch depicting Landry’s fedora on their uniforms during the 2000 season to honor this icon of Cowboys history. Dallas Cowboys. Tom Landry’s vision and ideas turned many Cowboys stars into legends. He himself left a great legacy with the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League in general.

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