The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly bringing back George Edwards for a second tour of duty as the team's linebackers coach. Edwards had previously worked in the same capacity for the Cowboys from 1998-2001, working under Dave Campo as defensive coordinator until 2000 when Mike Zimmer, now the Minnesota Vikings coach, took over as Dallas' defensive coordinator.
Two of the biggest examples of Edwards' work with the Cowboys the first time around are in Dexter Coakley and Dat Nguyen. Under Edwards' direction, Coakley, a 1997 third-round pick from Appalachian State, developed into a Pro Bowler in 1999 with 87 tackles, four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, 1.0 sack, a forced fumble, and six pass breakups through 16 starts. Coakley returned to the Pro Bowl in 2001, the last year with Edwards as linebackers coach.
2001 was also the season that Nguyen, a 1999 third-rounder from Texas A&M, developed into a force at middle linebacker. Nguyen led Dallas with 113 tackles and became a mainstay in the middle of the defense when coach Bill Parcells took over in 2003. In every season of Nguyen's career that he started 16 games — 2001, 2003, 2004 — he produced 100-plus tackles.
Washington added Edwards to first-year coach Steve Spurrier's staff, and Edwards served as assistant head coach in addition to linebackers coach. In Washington, former New York Giant Jessie Armstead logged 100 tackles, 3.0 sacks, three fumble recoveries, and two pass breakups in his 16 starts. LaVar Arrington made his second straight Pro Bowl, but had the most productive season of his career with 11.0 sacks, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and eight pass breakups.
After serving as defensive coordinator in 2003 when Marvin Lewis left Washington to take the Cincinnati Bengals job, Edwards landed with the Cleveland Browns in 2004 under coach Butch Davis, who was with the Cowboys from 1989-94. Linebacker Warrick Holdman was the second-leading tackler with 78, but the Browns were doomed that year and finished 4-12 with Davis fired with four games to go.
From 2005-09, Edwards went to the Miami Dolphins where he worked under Nick Saban for the first two seasons until Cam Cameron got a one-year shot until the late Tony Sparano took over in 2008. Miami already had a great linebacker on the roster in Zach Thomas, but he managed to earn his fifth first-team All-Pro in 2006. Edwards also developed Channing Crowder, who had two 100-plus tackle seasons for Miami while under Edwards' watch. All-Pro outside linebacker Joey Porter was also able to have his career-high in sacks with 17.5 in 2008.
Incidentally, in 2010, the Dolphins brought in Mike Nolan, now the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, and let Paul Pasqualoni go back to Dallas. Ex-Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan took over at linebackers coach, and Edwards joined ex-Dallas coach Chan Gailey in Buffalo to coordinator the Bills' defense. Edwards lasted two seasons in Buffalo, where linebacker Paul Posluszny produced 151 tackles in 2010 and linebacker Nick Barnett led the team with 130 the next season.
After being fired from Buffalo, Edwards returned to Miami and had linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett lead the team with 134 and 110 tackles respectively. The next season, Philip Wheeler led the Dolphins with 118 tackles and Dannell Ellerbe had 101, third-most for Miami.
When Zimmer took the Vikings job in 2014, he hired Edwards as his defensive coordinator, where he has spent the last six seasons. Aside from Anthony Barr's rookie season that year and 2019, the first-round pick from UCLA has made the Pro Bowl in every season with Edwards.
What Edwards has shown in his time in Dallas and at his other NFL stops is that he can develop talent in the linebacking corps and also elevate existing talent. One former coach who employed Edwards spoke favorably of him, telling WFAA that he is, "very smart, knows ball and relates really well with the players." The former coach also said Edwards is, "a really good person."
Given his track record in the NFC East and elsewhere in the league, it is understandable why the Cowboys brought him back to help linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch take their game to another level.
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