Should Dallas Cowboys Switch Back to the 3-4 Scheme?

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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

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

It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys defense in 2013 was historically bad. In fact, it was the worst unit in franchise history, statistically speaking.

First-year defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, despite having been a 4-3 defensive mastermind for decades, was unable to bring forth much in the way of progress concerning a unit that was almost as bad in 2012, the last season Dallas ran the 3-4 alignment under former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Kiffin’s struggles had absolutely nothing to do with his age, as some have suggested. The game certainly hasn’t passed beyond the reach of a professional coach of Kiffin’s experience.

On the contrary, a plague of injuries to the Dallas front seven was the primary reason that the Cowboys were stuck in neutral during most of last season. For those who will point to Kiffin’s struggles at USC prior to coming to Dallas, I would simply refer you to the Trojan’s situation with the NCAA and a loss in scholarships as the primary killer of that particular run at Southern Cal.

Now comes word that Dallas defensive line coach Rod Marinelli plans to join new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith. This move makes some sense given Marinelli’s history with Smith while the two were with the Chicago Bears not long ago.

Marinelli and Kiffin also have close ties—but those ties might not be close enough.

So what if Marinelli goes?

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Topics: Dallas Cowboys, Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli

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  • Jeff

    In my opinion I say yes and have been wishing it early on this season. I have my own delusional reasons I guess, but I thought the idea of the 4-3 was to help Ware put up massive numbers and rushes, sacks, etc. Definitely saw none of that this year. He was in beast mode in the 3-4. I thought maybe just fine tune it a little bit more and it would have been a stellar defense……not switch the damn thing up and retrain players in a matter of months to do work and damage….but thats just me. I always believed in “if it aint broke, dont fix it”, but you can always make it better…..not destroy it looking at it in shambles and expect to put it back together somehow expecting a masterpiece to evolve.

    • Christian Blood

      Jeff, I used to think the 3-4 was broken, which is why Dallas switched … remember that 2012 was only a little better than 2013 overall. Then again, I think Dallas is really just a nose guard away from having a much better 3-4 than they ever had before.

      Anyway, I kicked that dead horse long enough. Dallas will probably draft another wide receiver in the first round come May so it likely won’t matter what scheme they run.

  • Old Frog

    One advantage of the 4-3 seems to be the ability to bring 19 different players in from off the bench, street, or wherever else you find them and coach them up to play if you have to….not sure you can do that with the 3-4.

    • Christian Blood

      Old Fog, it is tougher to do that in the 3-4. I’m assuming, ignorantly, that Dallas will draft players that are ideal needs for either scheme, pretty much like every year.

      Say Jones ends up with a third-string tight end to show for the last two drafts in Round 2.

      Who knows … ???

  • Earl Robertson

    Stick with the 43 and fired Garrett and bring in mike Zimmer then we would be talking

    • Christian Blood

      Earl I would welcome that plan in a heartbeat. Zimmer is a stud and he, unlike Garrett, is going to make a good head coach one day. Good thoughts there …

  • Unc Forrever

    I have wanted a 4-3 a long time and not ready to give up on it now. We never have a pass rush which in today]s NFL I deem more important than a great secondary (especially the way the rules favor recievers and a passing attack). I believe the future in the NFL for strong defenses is getting to and bothering the QBs. I say no to the 3-4 and yes keep building the 4-3!

    • Christian Blood

      Unc, Dallas could certainly go that route but they’ll still need to get a new defensive tackle and defensive end if things are going to work in time for Ware to remain one of the team’s top pass rushing threats. I think the 4-3 really wore Ware down, kind of like how the 3-4 just evaporated Ratliff after about 3 seasons.

      • ctcowboy1968

        I don’t think one can make any decisions based on Ware. He is on the down slide of his career. He is only a good player now. Not exceptional anymore. Besides, in the 3-4 Ware put his hand on the ground and rushed 90% of the time.

        • Christian Blood

          Ware didn’t have his hand on the ground often ’68, but the main point here is that the outside linebacker position offers more room to gain momentum and navigate offensive tackles that are much bigger than Ware. Those extra few feet really matter. That’s all I’m saying … I still think Ware can hit double digit sacks another time or two if the right supporting cast is surrounding him … and he’s in the right position.

  • ctcowboy1968

    Stick with the 4-3. It’s much easier to draft, find and teach players the 4-3. College teams predominantly play the 4-3. We spent years switching players from their natural positions and it’s a slow process. But don’t stay with the Tampa 2. We have man to man press CBs. Let them play their strength.

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