Another season has come and gone. Free agency has slowed to a crawl now and the draft is just around the corner. For the 16th season in a row, the Cowboys failed to reach the big dance. Why? I am going to do my best to explain that right now.
Before I do that, lets take a look at the history of this once proud franchise. In 1960 a new expansion team was born in Texas. The Dallas Cowboys. After the interview process, they brought in a young defensive assistant from the New York Giants to be the first head coach. His name was Tom Landry. He already had a colorful resume.
Landry played professional baseball in 1949 for the New York Yankees, then in 1950 made a career move and decided to play professional football for the New York Giants. In 1954 he was selected as an all-pro. He played through the 1955 season. He was the 1st and probably the last person to have the role of a player/coach, from 1954 through 1955 as the defensive coordinator. Landry ended his playing career with 32 interceptions in only 80 games. He was never the fastest guy on the field, just the smartest. His ability to read offenses was unmatched.
Landry then became the official defensive coordinator for the Giants, working with the great Vince Lombardi, who was the offensive coordinator. Landry led one of the most elite defensive teams in the league from 1956 to 1959 with no prior NFL coaching experience. The two coaches shared not only a great friendship, but a coaching chemistry that led the Giants to three appearances in the NFL championship game in four years. The Giants beat the Chicago Bears 47–7 in 1956, but lost to the Baltimore Colts in 1958 and 1959.
Landry invented the well known 4-3 Defense, while serving as the Giants defensive coordinator. It was called the 4-3 because it was composed of four down lineman, two DE’s and two DT’s on either side of the of the center and three linebackers, middle, left, and right. The innovation was the MLB. Previously a lineman was placed in front of the center. Landry on the other hand, had this person stand up and move back two yards. The Giants’ MLB at that time was the legendary Sam Huff. A new era of NFL defense began. It was at that time Tom inherited the title the great innovator.
“Landry built the 4-3 defense around me. It revolutionized defense and opened the door for all the variations of zones and man-to-man coverage, which are used in conjunction with it today. —Sam Huff”
After Landry was hired by the Cowboys in 1960, he had one major concern. His former partner, now rival, Vince Lombardi. In light of this, Landry invented and popularized the use of keys, (analyzing offensive tendencies) to determine what the offense might do. Lombardi used what was called the “Run To Daylight Offense”. It was feared across the league and the innovator went to work to come up with a way to stop it.
The story continues on the next page…