Ask The Dallas Cowboy’s new Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin and he will tell you, “This isn’t a three year plan.”
According to Cowboy’s brass, the transition from the 3-4 Rob Ryan defense to the 4-3 Monte Kiffin defense should not be seen as a typical rebuilding effort. This transition is expected to show immediate results and is expected to be an improvement over last year’s defense. Consider this: With the recent franchising of Anthony Spencer little cap space is available for any other additions. In addition, Gerald Sensabaugh is being released so the defense will have to answer two question marks at the safety position instead of just one.
Lane Kiffin (son of Monte Kiffin and his former boss at USC) explained the only reason Monte’s defense did not succeed at USC was because the NCAA limits the amount of practice (and film) time. The players needed more time and were not prepared to execute the defense properly. So in other words, they would have been fine if they just had enough time to learn it.
Is that really a valid excuse?
Isn’t that the same issues Dallas had with Rob Ryan? Rob Ryan’s first year was negatively impacted by the NFL lockout. Without a full offseason to install a defense most logical people expect growing pains and therefore expect a simpler version of the defense. Strangely Rob Ryan didn’t simplify his defense very much. That 2011 season was extremely embarrassing for Rob Ryan. Players were lost and confused more often than anyone would care to admit. When players did successfully line up and execute the scheme, the results were mixed. Clearly Rob Ryan had a great excuse coming off an offseason lockout but it was his choice to run this complicated defense. While many other teams scaled back their schemes Rob Ryan kept much of his. At the end of the day it was his fault for overestimating his players and their abilities (of the cognitive variety). Could Monte Kiffin be making the same mistake?
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Monte Kiffin would be wise to learn from Rob Ryan’s mistakes. Ryan thought the team could digest his playbook in one shortened offseason. As it turns out, they couldn’t learn it in two years. The injuries certainly didn’t help Rob Ryan but the lost and confused veterans are what doomed him. As a coach you need to understand your player’s limitations whether it’s mental or physical. Rob Ryan couldn’t see the limitations and it came back to bite him. Will Monte Kiffin fall victim to the same trap?