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Todd Grantham Q&A With Aaron From Blogging The 'Boys.

In anticipation of the potential hire of Todd Grantham as Georgia's new Defensive Coordinator, I checked in with Aaron Novinger of SBNation's Cowboys' site, Blogging The 'Boys, to get his perspective on Dallas's D-Line coach. Aaron is a guy who does his homework, and he's watched Grantham's work up close for two years. And while it wasn't a part of this session, I'd like to quote Aaron's initial reaction to the possibility of losing Todd Grantham: "Noooooooooo!!!!" I thought y'all would appreciate that.

Full transcript after the jump . . .

MD: If you were a college head coach, would you hire Todd Grantham to coordinate your defense? Why or why not? 

Aaron: Yes. He is a sparkplug; I would hate to see him leave Dallas. He’s one of those coaches that gets fired up on the sidelines and his players seem to respond well to that. During his short tenure with the Cowboys as the D-line coach, I’ve noticed an improvement in the players’ techniques in both the run-stopping and pass-rushing aspects. He works well in the 3-4, and was part of the reason the Cowboys led the league last year with 59 sacks. If you look at Dallas’ D-linemen, they are all relatively young, which shows that he has been integral to their development.

MD: Grantham's time in Cleveland ended, well, inauspiciously. Should we Bulldog fans worry about that?

Aaron: No. In a sense, that was Romeo Crennel’s defense. I asked a buddy of mine, Jeremy, who is a die-hard Browns’ fan about Grantham and he had this to say:

“First, his defense performed well considering the offensive struggles and a defense loaded with underachievers. Second, I think he fits the college mold well because he is fiery and passionate and has the ability get his squad fired up too. Don’t worry. Cleveland’s problems were far beyond Grantham and his contributions.”

MD: What has been the hallmark of Grantham's two year tenure in Big D?

Aaron: First, I would say that the continued development of NT Jay Ratliff. Ratliff was a 7th-round pick who has now turned into an All-Pro. Considered an undersized player at that position in that style of defense, he consistently finds ways to beat double teams and use his quickness to penetrate the backfield (Editor's note: That's pretty consistent with Grantham's preference for "one gap" noseguards versus "two gap" guys used in the traditional 3-4). Yes, he’s talented, but since Grantham’s been in Dallas, “Rat” has been a Pro Bowler—notching 7.5 sacks last year and 6 this year.

Although it is Wade Phillips’ defense, remember that he had a much bigger NT in San Diego in Jamal Williams, who weighs in near 350 lbs. Compared to the 305 lb. Ratliff, Grantham and Phillips have had to create techniques for him so he wouldn’t get blown off the ball on running downs.

MD: Some would say that Grantham inherited a wealth of talent when he got to Dallas. Jay Ratliff and Marcus Spears seem like guys you could build a line around. What is there to make us believe Grantham's not just a guy who's standing back and letting good players make plays?

Aaron: Look at the Cowboys’ backup D-linemen: DEs Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and NT Junior Siavii. Though there is a talent dropoff from the starters, these guys come in well-prepared. Bowen, in particular, has created a niche for himself as a pass rusher on third-downs. Fans were worried that Siavii wasn’t suited to make the team, but he’s filled in well when Ratliff needs a breather. I think that Grantham deserves credit for finding roles for these guys to play. (Editors note, part dos: Given our personnel up front we're going to need a guy who can make square pegs fit in round holes for a while. This may be a good sign.)

Again, I asked my Browns’ friend this same question…

“In my opinion, he squeezed every ounce of talent possible out of every player on the defense. If you look at the defense in Cleveland today, almost none of Grantham’s guys are there because they lacked talent. Many don’t even play in the league anymore. Any coach’s performance is going to be impacted, to some degree, by the level of talent on the team, good or bad.”

MD: Do you have a sense of what level of involvement Grantham has in Dallas's defensive gameplanning? One would think that it's Wade Phillips' defense primarily.

Aaron: It is Wade Phillips’ defense, as he is both head coach and defensive coordinator. While attending training camp, I watched Grantham and the D-linemen several times. Because Phillips doesn’t have his players fully tackle in practice (MD: No, no, not again!!!)  it was hard to get a grasp of how good the D-linemen would be. Often, Grantham had them working on technique drills, such as swim and spin moves, as well as bull-rushing tactics.

Phillips is not a stubborn coach by any means. What I mean by that is he seems like more of a collaborative HC/DC rather than one that says, “this is how we’re going to do it.” He knows defense, which tells me that he must have faith in his assistants. His assistants, coaches like Grantham, LB coach Reggie Herring, and DB coach Dave Campo, are all much more vocal than he. That leads me to believe that they are well-heard in the meetings; and with Grantham and Campo being former DCs themselves, I would think that Phillips works with them as much as he directs the overall defense.

MD: Is it true that when you die, if you've been a very good Cowboy fan (said your prayers, run your gassers, etc.) you get to go to Tom Landry's house?

Aaron: It depends on your idea of being a “good” Cowboys fan. If you are a partier, you might get to choose to go to Michael Irvin’s old party house on Dorsett Street.

Thanks again to Aaron for taking time out of BTB's nonstop playoff coverage to talk to us.

Until later . . .


Go 'Dawgs!!!