Dallas Cowboys Defense a Train Wreck We Should Have Seen Coming

At USC, Kiffin's schemes weren't very effective.

At USC, Kiffin’s schemes weren’t very effective.

When you see the Monday Night crew at ESPN sharing a chuckle at the Cowboys defense for allowing 40 first downs in a game with the Saints, you know this defense has hit rock bottom. Just that number (40 first downs) alone is mind boggling.

Brees found it a breeze moving down the field against the Cowboys defense as he completed 26 of 30 passes at the half. QBs can’t even do that at practice without any defense! Peyton Manning also had his way with this defense and Rivers did too. Not to mention Ponder of the Vikings almost beat the Cowboys had they not missed an extra point. Ponder? Not exactly a name headed to the HOF in Canton.

Should we have seen this train wreck coming? Readers of this dishing the real blog were warned back in January that this might happen. In that blog I looked objectively at Kiffin’s defense at USC and to say the least, there were red flags. BLOG

Don’t expect that kind of objective coverage from the official site where writers offer glowing reviews of the new hire as they serve up that Jerry Jones kool-aid. It’s why I do what I do.

I pointed out some numbers that Kiffin’s defense allowed last season at USC:

USC yielded 178 points while losing four of its final five games this season, free-falling out of the Top 25 after beginning the year at No. 1.
•In a loss to Oregon on Nov. 3, USC had the worst defensive game in the history of a school that began playing football in the 19th century, giving up a school record-worst 62 points, 730 yards and nine touchdowns.
•USC yielded 613 yards in a 39-36 loss to Arizona.
•UCLA embarrassed USC with 513 yards of offense during a 38-28 victory on Nov. 17 – including 171 yards rushing, the Bruins’ most in the rivalry game in a quarter-century.

Those kind of record breaking numbers at USC are looking pretty familiar this season with Dallas. Just substitute Denver for Oregon and New Orleans for Arizona.

Kiffin’s Tampa 2 is designed to allow a lot of yards (you think??) in a bend but don’t break approach. It is supposed to create turnovers that end drives. It prevents the big play and quick score but as we saw with Brees, it can certainly allow a lot of short uncontested receptions that move the ball right down the field without a problem. How else can 40 frickin’ first downs be explained?

So far this year, Kiffin’s defense has created more turnovers than Dallas had at this point last season. In fact they came up with four in that Lions game but still managed to lose. That’s the game where Megatron completely owned Brandon Carr. Which brings me to my next point.

Switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense can’t be done over night although Jerry Jones would have you believe it’s as simple as changing your mind. The Cowboys brought in Carr and drafted Claiborne to play Ryan’s press coverage defense but now they are being asked to do something much different.

Same thing with the defensive line that is being asked to change their approach completely. And it’s not like the Cowboys did a lot to help themselves in the draft either by failing to address an aging defensive line. Ratliff is gone and Anthony Spencer hasn’t played all season. Ware has been injured and not as productive as in the past. They have been forced to sign guys “off the couch” to come in and play immediately.

So it’s not all on Kiffin and his out dated approach to defending modern offenses that feature gun slinging QBs that toss the ball all over the place. The Tampa 2 was quite a success back in the day, when defenses had to stop the run first and then defend play action pass on third down. But now we have offenses that spread out the entire field and are perfectly content to take what you give them.

Can we all agree the NFL has changed a bit in the past 12 years? It’s more difficult than ever to effectively blitz QBs. Most of them welcome it.

Was it realistic for Cowboy fans to think this Tampa 2 defense was going to be the answer? Was it realistic to think this team would finally get over that .500 record hump? (as they go into the bye week 5-5).

Or once again has Jerry punked us all into thinking he had the solution this time in the form of a 73 year old defensive coordinator whose defense got lit up like a Christmas tree in the progressive Pac 12?

At the end of my blog in January, I sagely offered this warning, “When you are a Cowboys fan, never, ever, say things can’t get worse than they are…..”
Well perhaps they just did.

2 thoughts on “Dallas Cowboys Defense a Train Wreck We Should Have Seen Coming

  1. Great blog!  As you warned us, we should have had concern over bringing in a 73-year old defensive coordinator whose Tampa 2 defense, while it may have worked 12 years ago, has been shamefully exposed as out-moded against the modern NFL offenses–with gun-slinging QBs like Manning & Brees.    The game has changed drastically and Kiffin’s defense, which is designed to stop the run first & then play-action passes–with pressure from the line & one-on-one press coverage is simply not working against modern offensive schemes that spread the field & run or pass on any down.  Then it’s made worse by the fact that Jerry signed or drafted CBs to play press-coverage who are now being forced to play zone coverage.  Finally it sure doesn’t help that Jerry completely neglected the defensive line in the draft while hiring a DC whose 4-3 scheme needs more d-linemen.  Like you said, we have seen this train wreck coming…

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