Publish date:

A longtime NFL assistant explains why his drills don't resemble anything you've seen from other coaches

In coaching circles, longtime NFL tight ends coach Mike Pope is known just as much for his creative drills as he is for the talent he has helped mold in guys like Jeremy Shockey and Kevin Boss.

Pope coached the tight ends for the New York Giants from 1983-1991, and then again from 2000-2013, which means he's been a part of all four of the Giants' Super Bowl title teams. He was let go by the Giants following the 2013 season and was hired by the Cowboys in January of 2014.

With a track record like that, it's obvious why he wasn't on the open market for long. Part of what makes Pope such a special coach is the unique spin and creativity that he pours into his individual drills.

As a young coach, I remember hearing stories from one of his former players about how they'd do drills where they'd stand and catch balls while he splashed them with buckets of water in an effort to distract them, and how he'd have his guys stand in a dark room, have someone throw a ball at them, and the flip the light on just moments before the ball would hit them in the face.

Dallas News reporter Jon Machota was in attendance at Cowboys camp to catch a few of Pope's more recent gems, including putting swim goggles on his guys, having them leapfrog each other before getting spun around to catch a ball.

As wacky as they seem, each one has a very specific purpose.

Yesterday I came across this clip on, and it features Pope spending about a minute explaining the logic behind his drills.