|Coach Boniol with the Cowboys.|
Chris Boniol joined the Raiders coaching staff this offseason as the assistant special teams coach. The former NFL kicker previously spent four seasons as the special teams assistant with the Dallas Cowboys (2010-13) before being hired to help Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April with the Silver and Black’s specialists.
Boniol is ready for this opportunity with the Raiders storied-franchise. “I know they have a passionate fan base,” said Boniol. “They’ve had a history of winning games, going to the Super Bowl. There have been a number of people that I’ve coached or played with that have been through the organization as a player or coach and they can’t say enough good things about being here.”
Boniol enters his fifth season as an NFL coach after finishing his playing career in 1999. He wanted to transition from player to coach earlier in his career, but timing and opportunity did not present itself until 2010 in Dallas. “It took a long time. I think the big knock on players that are trying to be coaches is ‘well, we know you played, but what do you know about coaching? My parents were both teachers and my dad has been a coach for years and years and I grew up around a ball field; that’s all I know,” said Boniol. “I started out as a teacher and a coach and then over the years developed coaching and then finally got an opportunity to coach with the Cowboys in the NFL. It took the right need at the right time and a lot of patience to finally get an opportunity.”
The Louisiana-native believes his time as a player in the NFL helps him as a coach. “I think as a former kicker, I understand the day-to-day, the offseason, the summer, the training camp, and the season. I understand the day-to-day grind,” said Boniol. “I know what it looks like and what it sounds like when things are good and I know what it looks like when things aren’t good. I can just see it in their eyes sometimes, you know them because I’ve been there and I know the good and I know the bad. I get it. I understand it. Now, how can I help you? What can I do and how can we do it to help you be successful?”
That transition has been a success so far as he came away from his first coaching stint happy with what his special teamers were able to accomplish. “I had some success with the specialists, which was the number one thing,” said Boniol on his time with the Cowboys. “I walked away proud of what I had done and looking for a new opportunity. The guys that were there, we’d been developing for the last few years. They’re to a point now they’ve really matured in their career but now I’m looking forward to new opportunities and seeing how I can help the program here.”
Now Boniol will have the opportunity to work with Coach April, who has spent over 20 years as an NFL coach. “He’s got a lot of experience and he’s been around and he’s been successful for a long time,” said Boniol on April. “I think any time you can work for somebody with his credentials, with his history and everything I’ve heard about him besides being acquainted with him in the past, is that he’s a real upbeat, positive, energetic coach. Just seeing one more style of coaching, one more style of running a meeting, one more way of running practice…I’ve been very fortunate in that area to be working for some really experienced coaches and this is another good opportunity for me.”
Boniol as a kicker for the Cowboys.
Learning from Coach April was one of the many reasons Boniol was interested in the Raiders position. “Working for Bobby is something I’m really excited about,” he said. “I think the Raiders have a lot of potential to really ascend. First of all, there’s a need to bring something I’m gifted to do, which is help with the specialists. But just seeing that there are a lot of young coaches here and there’s a lot of people that are just like I am around here – want to win, want to coach and they just want to enjoy their jobs every single day and work hard. Really just the opportunity to get to coach and do what I love to do with the kind of people that are here is what really drew me.”
Boniol will bring a coaching style that focuses on teaching. “I think teaching and encouraging. I’m not a yeller or screamer. I believe you can inspire people and you pull them along with you with your enthusiasm and that’s just how I am. I’m going to be the same with players as I am with my own kids – I’m going to challenge them, hold them accountable, but teach them. Players, they want to know why and you have to help them understand why and then they’ll give you their best I believe,” said Boniol.
He will work with veteran K
Boniol understands that it’s about developing an understanding of each individual in order to provide the best coaching experience. “It’s one of those things that it just takes some time to learn about each other and learn about each player. That’s the way I approach it,” said Boniol. “I don’t necessarily have a plan for this individual until I get to know them and get to see what’s helped them in the past. I think it’s really important to be a good communicator, not just communicating to, but listening as well. I think that’s a really important part of it.”
Once there is an understanding between player and coach, then progress can be made. Boniol’s goal during the offseason and into the season is, “to learn as much as I can about these guys and what works for them and hear from them, ‘this is what I’ve done in the past and this is what I think has helped me,’ he said. “And then also communicate my ideas for, ‘here’s what I see and here’s what I think,’ and then go from there working together with those guys.”
His preparation for this season begins now.