Sep 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) celebrates a sack in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at AT

Cowboys Need A Change In Philosophy

Sep 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden (96), defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (97) and defensive end Edgar Jones (55) during the second half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

After watching this weekend’s games, I had an epiphany that struck me with the subtly of a wrecking ball.

The Dallas Cowboys are going about building their roster in the wrong way.  Ever since Bill Parcells left the building, Dallas has been obsessed with the offensive side of the ball.  Armed with seven first round picks in this time frame, Dallas has only chosen a defensive player three times.  Anthony Spencer was chosen late in the first round in 2007.  With their second of two first round picks in 2008, Dallas chose defensive back Mike Jenkins.  In 2012, Dallas moved up eight spots to draft another defensive back in Morris Claiborne. Spencer may never play for the Cowboys again, Jenkins is no longer with the team and Claiborne is facing a crossroads in his career in 2014.

Otherwise, the Cowboys have gone to the offensive side of the ball each time.  Felix Jones in 2008, Dez Bryant in 2010, Tyron Smith in 2011 and last year’s choice of Travis Frederick have all been brought in to improve that side of the ball and they have… but what about the defense?  In the last six years, the Cowboys have finished in the top ten in total yards allowed twice (2008 & 2009) and in points allowed once (2009).

Contrary to what you might believe, this is not the “Cowboy Way.”  This organization has always hung its ten gallon hat (or fedora) on its defense.  Yes, Dallas is home of the Triplets, of mauling offensive linemen and flashy wide receivers from Drew Pearson to Dez Bryant but it’s always been about the defense.  Look at these defensive numbers in the five Super Bowl seasons:


1971 7 3 19 2
1977 8 1 2 3
1992 5 1 5 1
1993 2 10 10 11
1995 3 9 8 16


The teams that won the Bowl finished in the top ten in points allowed and total yards in each season.  During the Jason Garrett era, the Cowboys best in either category came in 2011 when Dallas was 16th in points allowed and 14th in total yards.  Otherwise, defense has been an afterthought.  Want to make the playoffs and have a chance to hoist a trophy?  Play defense.  Here’s what the last five playoff teams Dallas has had looked like defensively:


1999 2 9 20 4
2003 13 9 13 6
2006 20 13 24 10
2007 2 1 1 3
2009 5 9 13 6


Again, three of those teams finished in the top five in points allowed and four finished in the top ten in total yards.  It’s not a coincidence.  And before you start to believe the hype that the league has changed and it’s an offensive league now, facts say that defense is still the real way to get where you want to be.

* Since 2008, only once (2011) did three or more of the final four teams left NOT finish in the top ten in points allowed.

* In that same time frame, only once (2009) did two or more of the final four teams NOT finish in the top five in points allowed.

* This year’s playoff participants featured the top six teams in the league in points allowed and the top five teams in yards allowed.

* The four teams that lost this weekend combined for 64 total points and only seven touchdowns.

So, the next time you read about the draft class being deep at wide receiver or Dallas needing someone to back up DeMarco Murray or possibly drafting the future quarterback just remember this article.  Hopefully instead of doing anything like that or flushing another high pick down the toilet on a tight end, the Cowboys bolster their defensive units and get back to the playoffs the way all the successful teams do.  Defense may not win championships but it certainly gets you in the conversation.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Anthony Spencer Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett Morris Claiborne

  • Earl Robertson

    I don’t agree with you, they spent a lot of their draft picks in the 2000′s on defense! Think about 2005 Ware, Spears, Burnett, Canty! The reason they haven’t won anything is because Jerry hurts the team instead of help the team win, and the players they have acquired are either not very good or they are injured prone!

  • SmartThinking

    Dallas finished this season 8-8 with the worst defense in pro football. Were they terrible? Yes. They were horrible. Frustratingly horrible.

    But, here’s the thing. The offense could have been a lot more productive down the field if the front line had moved mountains for the backs and freed up Romo from throwing everything he could get his hands on.

    Waters’ addition proved Dallas could get the movement at the line it needed. When he went down, the line went back to being mediocre. Sure, they looked ‘better’ in the late season, but not great enough to compete above average.

    If Dallas moves up in the draft and gets that monster guard from A&M in the first round, the offensive line will be one man short of being fixed. Maybe for years. Maybe, good enough to compete at an elite level. Then, Murray can run. Romo can throw. And the offense will score points.

    Will the defense be any better? Can one or two defensive rookies from this upcoming draft fix this defense? I say not much.

    Can one new guard fix this offense? I think yes. It might just be the difference between another 8-8 and 9-7 or even 10-6.

    • dan

      jerry doesn’t know footbal at all. he does know business, offense sells tickets defense doesn’t. i f jerry really wanted to win super bowls he would hire someone who knows football and leave him alone to run the team , but jerry is happy with the cowboys being a average team and still making his money. but he will soon fine out fans are not happy with a average team anymore and are not following the team which will eventually lose him money.

      • dan

        jerry does not how to pick personel , when it comes to trades or drafts.terrible!!!!!!

    • MercWithaMouth

      What monster guard from A&M? Jake Mathews is the only OLine from A&M coming into the draft so far and he is an OT

      • MercWithaMouth

        Obueghi already stated he is not entering the draft this year, and he too is an OT, although he did play guard for a short time

      • SmartThinking

        Mathews was the guy I was referring to and I got my offensive line positions all twisted around my typing fingers. Mea culpa. Richardson from Baylor or that kid from Mizzou were two of the others I was doing research on. They’re equally as good with Richardson the better by far. Again, my mistake on Mathews.

  • Juanito Juanito

    need more talent, and health