Even before the Dallas Cowboys sparked the largest fan on fan debate in a long time by firing defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, there was talk of change. However, this time I am not talking about Jerry Jones, but rather the Cowboys moving to a 4-3 defensive alignment. The talk was amplified by the firing of Ryan and because of what Jason Garrett had to say in explaining why Ryan would not return.
“At this time, the decision has been made to move forward in a different direction philosophically,” he said.
Since those words were spoken, everyone seems to be jumping on the Cowboys moving to the 4-3 bandwagon. You can’t check out anything Cowboys related and not see the articles written about the Cowboys possible defensive switch. Garrett’s words might mean the Cowboys are headed in that direction but the bigger clue to what defense they’ll play depends on who they hire as their defensive coordinator. That will be the biggest factor in determining which defense Dallas will play in 2013.
No matter what happens one thing is clear, the Cowboys do have the personnel to play the 4-3 alignment. In fact, they played plenty of it this year in their substitution packages, so it would not be a difficult switch. If Dallas did make the change it would likely mean the Cowboys would keep Jay Ratliff to play inside at defensive tackle where he could excel in one on one situations instead of getting double teamed all game long.
The switch would also mean the Cowboys two best pass rushers, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, would be playing closer to the line of scrimmage and improves their odds of not being in coverage nearly as much. After all, dropping them into coverage anymore than a few times a season is way too much and that was a big problem under Rob Ryan.
A move to the 4-3 would also allow the Cowboys to rotate players on the defensive line to keep them fresh. Think about how a rotation of Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears, Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lissemore and Kyle Wilber to go along with Ratliff, Ware and Spencer would keep them fresh throughout the season! It would also make their defensive line less of a priority in the draft, reducing a current need. Don’t get me wrong, the Cowboys still need to address the position but it would be far less of a priority if the Cowboys changed their defensive philosophy.
According to National Football Post writer Brad Biggs, Dallas also has the pieces at linebacker to make a great fit in the 4-3.
‘Sean Lee would be ideal as a middle linebacker and Bruce Carter’s range and ability to play in space would make him a good fit on the weak side.’
Imagine how good Lee would be running free to make tackles without having to take on as many blockers? Of course the Cowboys would have to find a suitable strong side linebacker but they could re-sign Ernie Sims and they still have Alex Albright and Orie Lemon, two players the Cowboys really like, to solidify the linebacker position. Albright in particular, seems like a very good player the Cowboys need to get on the field more often.
It looks as though the Cowboys are leaning towards the 4-3 alignment on defense and this would be another one of those changes Mr. Jones was talking about, only time will tell. Time, and whoever they hire as their new defensive coordinator.
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