One of the biggest changes that the Dallas Cowboys have made this offseason is switching from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 defense.
The team fired Rob Ryan after the defense regressed in each of his two years as defensive coordinator and replaced him with 4-3 guru and father of the Tampa Cover 2 defense; Monte Kiffin. So far, the defense has looked pretty darn good in preseason, but I also understand that teams aren’t attacking them as they would if they were playing during the regular season.
It’s hard to predict how good the Cowboys defense will be in 2013, but it is worth noting that between 2000 and 2008, while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kiffin’s defenses had the second-most takeaways behind only the Baltimore Ravens. During his nine-year tenure with Tampa Bay, Kiffin’s defenses finished in the top-11 in takeaways, seven times, and five of those times they were ranked in the top-5.
Now, I know that the Tampa Bay defenses that Kiffin coached back then had a few Hall of Fame players on them, but that’s not to say he can’t or won’t recreate some of the magic while in Dallas. I mean after all, he does have some of the best talent currently in the league at his disposal in the likes of defensive end DeMarcus Ware and middle linebacker Sean Lee.
So far, it’s been a good sign that the Cowboys defense is making plays and causing turnovers. It’s something that, in my opinion, looks foreign at times, given that the Cowboys had the fourth fewest takeaways in 2012.
I don’t know that this is the year to gamble on the Cowboys defense because I think that they still have a lot of kinks to work out in their first year in the Tampa 2, but they are certainly a unit worth keeping an eye on as a possible sleeper pick.