August 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Dan Buckner (85) is brought down by Dallas Cowboys defensive back Brandon Underwood (23) during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Defense Beginning to Find a Rhythm

When looking back at last Friday’s game, there should be some concerns for Jason Garret’s Cowboys. In the first half, Dez Byant, Dwayne Harris and Lance Dunbar each lost a fumble. In addition, Kyle Orton threw two interceptions to the Arizona defense. In the first half, the Cowboys turned over the ball five times. That is unacceptable. The offense executed well, but when you turnover the ball it doesn’t matter. Despite this, there was a huge bright spot to the game, and it was the defense.

At the end of the second quarter, the Cowboys were only down 0-9. The score should have been 0-15; however two crucial mistakes were made by Arizona. On fourth and two, Arizona tried to convert for the first down from the Dallas seven, but failed. Arizona could’ve easily gotten a field goal from that distance, but instead opted for the fourth down conversion.  The second mistake was a missed 30 yard field goal by Jay Feely. A 30 yard field goal should be a chip shot, and the Cowboys were lucky that Feely missed it.

The defense deserves some credit for their work in the first half. The score should have been a lot worse for the Cowboys, but it was only 0-9 at the end of the half. When a team turns over the ball five times, I would expect a much larger deficit. The defense gave up no touchdown, despite the field position, and kept the Cowboys competitive.

Monte Kiffin’s scheme is really becoming clear. The defense uses the philosophy of bend but don’t break. Kiffin uses a lot of zone coverages and gets the defender to read the eyes of the quarterback. This can result in more interceptions, which we’ve seen so far. This also makes the quarterback more hesitant to make a pass, since defenders will jump on it right away. This can result in more sacks, if they decide to keep holding on to the ball. Once the quarterback releases the ball, the defense will swarm around the intended receiver and try to force the incompletion or tackle. As opposing offenses gets deeper down the field, the defenders will cover less area. This makes it more difficult for the opposing quarterback and will add more pressure to them.

It’s a very simple scheme, but we saw how effective it can be last Friday. Even though the defense would start with horrible field position, they didn’t allow touchdowns. In the past, the defense did not help Tony Romo win games. The opposing teams would need a touchdown to win the game, and the defense would usually let them have it. With Monte Kiffin’s defense, the defense should make it more difficult for the opposing team to score. The defense looks good after three preseason games, and regular season cannot come soon enough. The defense should be a fun one to watch this year.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Defense Monte Kiffin

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