The Dallas Cowboys‘ search for a new defensive coordinator lasted less than a week as former USC Trojans play-caller Monte Kiffin has agreed to replace Rob Ryan. This move would be fine if it weren’t for the Cowboys’ current personnel situation, but the way Dallas’ defense is built means Kiffin won’t experience much success with America’s Team.
Kiffin is very prominent defensive mind in all of football, but he’s all about the 4-3 defense and Tampa 2 cover scheme. The problem is the Cowboys have arguably the best 3-4 linebacking crew in the NFL, granted they wise up and re-sign Anthony Spencer. Switching to Kiffin’s preferred 4-3 scheme is the worst plan for the Cowboys now. It might have worked two years ago before the team developed superstars Bruce Carter and Spencer, but taking away those players’ strengths will absolutely kill any chance Dallas’ defense has to be a successful unit.
This hire also makes no sense because Kiffin doesn’t exactly have a great track record in the NFL.
He was a linebackers coach and/or defensive coordinator for seven different teams between 1983 and 2008 and the only time he had success was with a star-studded Tampa Bay Buccaneers crew in the early 2000s. That unit’s success had absolutely nothing to do with Kiffin’s scheme or coaching as it was carried by superstars like Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and Warren Sapp.
The main problem is Dallas has a lot of talent on defense, especially at linebacker, but bringing in Kiffin and killing all the momentum Ryan had going will crush the Cowboys’ chances of contending with their current core group of players. Ryan took this defense from 31st to 25th to 14th and that last year was without Lee, Carter and safety Barry Church out for the year and six other defensive starters out with injuries at different points of the season. The Cowboys had finally learned Ryan’s scheme and their defense was beginning to click, even with third- and fourth-stringers starting in the second half of the 2012 season. That surge of success is spiraling down the drain as you’re reading this.
In short, don’t expect the Cowboys’ defense to be successful anytime soon. To play the 4-3 well, a total overhaul of Dallas’ front seven on defense is required, which basically means rebuilding mode. That’s odd for a team whose owner and general manager insists he’s trying to win right now. Well, it’s odd unless that team is the Cowboys and that owner/general manager is Jerry Jones.
Dallas shooting itself in the foot? Who’s surprised?