The Dallas Cowboys signed Anthony Hargrove today in an effort to upgrade the depth along their defensive line. Aside from DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Kyle Wilber changing positions to defensive end, the Hargrove signing is the only player change for Dallas’ defensive line from last season. There’s a reason for that, and he goes by the name of Monte Kiffin.
When Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the draft the reason the team didn’t select any defensive linemen was because he felt the Dallas defensive line was a real strength, people shook their heads. What he should have said instead was the coaching on the defensive line was a real strength, which makes the players better.
Fans wondered how could Jones think the position was a strength when it had two important members of the line changing positions, an aging player in Jay Ratliff who could be suspended after being charged with a DWI and a very good player in his early thirties (Jason Hatcher), who is in the last year of his contract? The Cowboys do have two young, solid players behind the starters in Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford but where does Jones’ belief come from? Again, the answer is easy, Monte Kiffin.
It truly is that simple; the Cowboys believe the best acquisition on defense this offseason was Kiffin. Their faith in him as a defensive coordinator is sole reason they didn’t feel the need to upgrade their defensive line with players because they believe that Kiffin, and his sidekick Rod Marinelli, are all they needed to be a better unit. As fans, analysts and writers we can debate this point until we’re blue in the face but that’s the reality of the situation.
Jerry Jones said as much this week when he was asked if he felt Monte Kiffin was the defenses biggest offseason addition, Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram reports Jones answered, “Yes I do,” without hesitation.
It’s hard to blame the Cowboys belief in Kiffin since his defensive units have finished in the top 10 of the league in 11 of his 13 years as a coordinator. His defenses are also known for causing a ton of turnovers, and if the Cowboys defense does both of those things this season, Jones’ proclamation will be correct.
Cowboys fans can argue about defensive line coach Rod Marinelli actually being the bigger addition (which is what I believe), but if Dallas doesn’t hire Kiffin, they don’t have Marinelli. That is why Kiffin is the most important upgrade the Cowboys made on their defensive line this offseason.
And it isn’t even close.