After two preseason games, we have learned some interesting things about this 2013 Dallas Cowboys defense. The Cowboys defense is giving up just under an average of 20 points per game and they generated two turnovers each game which of course is a significant improvement over last year. On the surface these numbers are good and make me feel that while it is too early to rush to judgment, the defense is holding steady. However, there are still areas of concern which give some folks pause.
It is well documented that many feel the Dallas Cowboys biggest potential weakness is the safety position. While I am not inclined to disagree completely, I do believe there is potentially a more deadly chink in the defensive armor. Before I explain, however, some context about why I have confidence in the other facets of Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Dallas Cowboys defense by providing some high level background on the base Tampa Two.
Sports Illustrated Author Tim Layden in his must read book for any NFL fan, Blood, Sweat, and Chalk: Inside Football’s Playbook, describes in eloquent terms the “Five Commandments of Tampa Two” as follows:
Commandment 1: The middle linebackers must have incredible speed and be able to cover deep behind the line of scrimmage to defend the gap between the safeties. Middle Linebacker Sean Lee fits the mold of this role perfectly, in my opinion. At a stout 6’2”and 234 pounds running a 4.71 second 40 yard dash, one could easily make the case that Sean Lee is a perfect Linebacker fit for the Tampa Two.
Commandment 2: The outside linebackers must be able to cover receivers and break to the line of scrimmage to defend the run. The position also requires consistent open field tacklers as well. When you consider the sure tackling and blazing speed of savvy outside linebackers Bruce Carter and Justin Durant, again the Cowboys have perhaps the best fitting Tampa Two linebackers in the league. I asked the veteran Durant via his official Twitter account (@JDurant52) how this Cowboys linebacking group ranks compared to others he has played with and he replied “it’s a little early to say the best, but they’re definitely up there.”
Commandment 3: Cornerbacks must roll up to the line of scrimmage and jam the Wide receivers. In the Tampa Two defense, the primary job for the CB’s is to disrupt the wide receiver, keeping him from running his route. Both Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr are exceptionally talented at being physical with wide outs at the line. Each are both willing and very good tacklers too, so again I like where the Cowboys stand today in the defensive backfield part of the Tampa Two.