Jerry Jones has made the announcement this week that no changes at the coaches’ position will be made. So Cowboy fans, that means we endure another season of offensive coordinator Bill Callahan calling plays that for one half, show promise of balance then total abandonment of the running game in the second half. We also get another season of a defense that seems to be obsolete. Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 defense not only made the Dallas Cowboys worse than a year ago, it made it the worst defense in NFL history by allowing the most yards per game.
Kiffin’s defense also suffered a rash of injuries that resembled the television show, “M*A*S*H”. It seemed like every episode rather game we had a new set of injuries or the same that dragged on. To Kiffin’s credit, that isn’t his fault. Jones needs to hire a new strength and conditioning coach that can make sure that the ‘boys are in prime shape. With having the second most hamstring injuries in the NFL, something has to be done or we can expect that same result.
Kiffin had success back in the early 2000’s with his defense that helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl. And despite that success, it was how it ended that has people still scratching their heads at this hire, which happened very shortly after Rob Ryan was let go in 2013.
Kiffin won but towards the end of the 2008 season, it seemed like the defense of the Buccaneers fell apart. The team started out with a 9-3 record that year and missed the playoffs much to do with a faltering defense with a 9-7 record. Many claimed that Kiffin quit but he debunks that theory. He stopped attending coaches meetings and participating in Buccaneer activities after his hiring from the University of Tennessee in mid-season. Head coach Jon Gruden also wouldn’t allow him to make any announcement during the season about his departure. So there was some tension upon his departure. Kiffin was hired by his son, Lane to coach the defense. At UT, this defense wasn’t spectacular. He spent one season and followed his son to the University of Southern California. At USC, his defenses weren’t much better.
The trademark of Kiffin’s defenses includes having quick linebackers or safeties play the linebacker position; a bend-but-don’t-break mentality to where allow yardage but no scoring; it is a multiple set defense using the same players; the emphasis is on more stripping the ball rather than tackle.
The Cowboys did have multiple players who were speedy enough for his defense but the mass rotation due to injury didn’t help. The defense did bend with it most often breaking as the emphasis to strip the ball was a porous effort, letting opponents score often.
Many fans are wondering, can this defense work for the Dallas Cowboys? My answer to that is sure. It can work if the components are there to make it successful. One benefit of having Kiffin stay is that the players already know the system. Most of them have played in it due to rash of injuries. And if the injuries subside, we might seem some consistency out of the Cowboys defense other than consistently blowing games. Seeing this defense reach its full potential may be worth the heartache we had to put up with this past year. Of course, if we can’t get out of the bottom 10 of the NFL rankings then it was a wasted year. At this point, having a so-so defense is better than this past year. Improvement is always a cause for some type of hope.
It is my feeling that because of all the injuries from last year, Jones is ready to turn a sympathetic ear for one more season. The problem that he fails to realize that is, the players he has on his roster are prone to injuries by nature. DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee are the poster children because it is even posted in their scouting reports as both having durability issues.
Either way, we are going to get one more season of the Kiffin defense. It is with hope that the Cowboys don’t repeat history and become a bigger laughing stock in the NFL. At this point, everyone is pointing at the defensive performance and having a giggle. For us fans, let’s hope we giggle to some success next year. Breaking 8-8 would be a start.