While the Dallas Cowboys may want to still improve in free agency, it appears that Mike McCarthy’s 2022 coaching staff has been completely assembled.
Despite the linking of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to head coaching positions around the NFL, one of the few departures on the Cowboys coaching staff was special teams assistant Matt Daniels.
Daniels departed Dallas for the Minnesota Vikings, joining new head coach Kevin O’Connell who had left the Los Angeles Rams after winning Super Bowl LVI. To fill his place, the Cowboys are now hiring Rayna Stewart as an assistant to special teams coordinator John Fassel, which will fill the last hole in McCarthy’s coaching staff.
The Cowboys’ official site announced the move on March 25.
“The Cowboys are in the process of finalizing the last vacancy on their coaching staff, bringing on new special teams assistant Rayna Stewart,” the official team site reads.
It marks the end of needing to square away McCarthy’s staff, and now personnel is basically the only focus for the Cowboys’ front office going into April and the 2022 NFL draft. Stewart isn’t a flashy name, but any new hiring to the staff matters in some form or fashion.
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Stewart’s Background as a Player, with Packers
The 48-year-old coach first entered the NFL in 1996 as a defensive back, joining the Houston Oilers after they selected him with a fifth-round pick in that year’s NFL draft.
After two seasons and four starts in Houston, Stewart played for the Miami Dolphins in 1998, where he didn’t register a tackle or any other stats. However, his arrival on the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999 led to a prominent role during the franchise’s “glory days.”
After appearing 14 times in 1999, Stewart started 10 games in 2000, nabbing his only two NFL interceptions and registering 28 solo tackles. However, that would be the last season Stewart would play in the NFL.
His return to the NFL came as a defensive quality control coach for the Tennessee Titans in 2009 and 2010, but he then spent four seasons with the Vanderbilt Commodores as director of player development and then as a special teams quality control coach, per the university’s website.
In 2019, he made another return to the NFL, joining Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s staff as a special teams quality control coach. After the 2020 season, he was named as an assistant special teams coach.
Now, Stewart arrives from the Packers, just as McCarthy did when he took the head coaching job in 2020.
Stewart Working Under Fassel
Fassel arrived in Dallas shortly into 2020 as part of McCarthy’s initial staff. As NFL.com points out, the Cowboys ranked 30th in special teams DVOA in the 2019 regular season, which meant McCarthy nailing down Fassel was an important hire.
The Cowboys drastically improved on special teams in 2020, jumping to 7th in Football Outsider’s special teams DVOA under Fassel’s watch. It was an impressive jump, but it was equally impressive that Fassel’s work had staying power in 2021.
Dallas ranked 6th in 2021, and that was despite having a negative hit in the field goal/extra point category due to Greg Zuerlein missing six extra points in 2021. It’s hard to tell what kind of impact Stewart can bring to Fassel’s unit, but it’s clear he’s joining a good one.