FNF Coaches Talk for Feb. 27 — Jon Kitna HS to NFL, Player with Down Syndrome, Lovie Smith Q&A

Good afternoon, Coaches. We hope you enjoy the three stories we’re talking about today.

1. Film room: How OC Kellen Moore and QBs coach Jon Kitna can realistically improve the Cowboys’ offense (SportsDay Dallas News)

Former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, who coached high school last season at Phoenx Brophy Prep (Ariz.) last season, was hired as the Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach in January. His most important task in Year 1 with the Cowboys will be improving Dak Prescott’s footwork.

Luckily, Kitna is the right guy for the job. He preaches perfection when it comes to footwork.

What drills do you prefer to help your quarterbacks learn the proper footwork?

2. At Atlee High School, inclusion is part of the football team’s playbook (CBS 6 — Richmond)

Konor McGann’s mother Patty was worried about her son’s transition from middle school to high school. Konor was born with Down Syndrome and autism. She spoke with Atlee head football coach Matt Gray about her son.

“Her questions were ‘How can I get him involved?'” Coach Gray recalled. “And I’m like, ‘I got an idea.'”

His idea was to make Konor a member of the football team — as a team manager.

As you’ll often see in situations like this, the experience helped the players at Atlee as much as it helped Konor.

“Being part of the team is being part of something bigger than yourself,” Coach Gray said. “And I think that’s what a lot of the guys experienced this year.”

In what ways have you given students in need an opportunity to find community within your program?

3. Illinois coach Love Smith: ‘Be who you are’ (FNF Coaches)

We had a chance to interview former Bears and Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, who is now coaching at Illinois. One thing we wanted to ask him about is how his personality fits in the high-octane world of coaching. Here’s our question and his answer.

We once read a story about you between your coaching stints with the Bears and Bucs. A reporter was shadowing you on a Sunday, and you weren’t really all that concerned with the NFL games. I’d read similar stories about guys like Bill Parcells or Greg Schiano, and they were obsessed with watching NFL games. How do you keep a healthy perspective outside of football?

“First off, you need to be yourself. That’s who they are, the guys you mentioned. The best advice is to be who you are and be consistent with how you do things. I don’t think anybody should change to be like me or anyone else. I keep a healthy balance. When I watch games, I’m a fan. I don’t always want to be working. When I’m watching a game, I want to dissect the game in a different way. I’ll admit that coaching is about situational football. You can learn so much by watching, just like players can learn when they’re injured. How would I handle this situation if it comes up? From a young age, I’ve always loved watching football as much as I can.”

How do you make sure your true personality is coming through when you’re coaching?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!