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Cowboys Debate: Is it the Defensive Players or the System?

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Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) is tackled by the Dallas Cowboys defense during the third quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

I really wanted to write about how much fun my buddies & I had in the city of Chicago for our football mancation. Instead the Cowboys defense created a debate that I’d like to address with this article. Are the defensive problems of the Cowboys due to a lack of talented personnel or a bad coaching system?

My position has been that it’s a bad coaching system, but it’s probably a mixture of both. Preseason, reports mentioned that our defense would mirror the defense of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are leading the NFL in total defense while the Cowboys rank dead last. It’s not close in any statistical category.

The differences on film are easy to spot. The Seahawks’ defense forces their opponent hand, while the Cowboys’ defense adjusts to their opponent. It’s comparable to being out of position in poker, they’re unable to dictate the action. The Seahawks are a physical group defensively and the secondary challenges receivers at the line of scrimmage. Just engaging the receiver at the line disrupts the timing of routes and forces the quarterback to hold the ball. It provides the pass rush more time to get to the quarterback and disguises if the defense is playing man or zone coverage.

Read and react defenses have a place in the NFL, but the term is mostly used when discussing the play of the defensive line and linebackers. The Cowboys secondary is reactionary and they react a second too late. It looks like press coverage, but our defenders consistently backpedal at the snap. Receivers are allowed to run to their spot and catch the ball. Opponents never get touched within the first five yards and that’s a scheme/coach problem.

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