Learning from that mistake, our front office (including Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones and Executive Vice President Stephen Jones combined with Head Coach Jason Garrett) made the move from the defensive 3-4 scheme to the 4-3 scheme. To me, this was a brilliant move and I believe it was driven solely by what occurred in 2012.
The problem was we apparently didn’t have the correct driver for our new Ferrari. I can assure you that no matter how pristine or fast a new car is, if your wheel man is two steps from Rice Pudding Wednesdays at your nearest retirement home, it’ll probably end in disaster. How’s “statistically the worst defense in Dallas Cowboys’ franchise history” for a disaster? Glad you see my angle.
Out of that atrocity, however, was born something beautiful. We not only swept the hated Redskins, as well as the New York Giants, we also split (1-1) with the Philadelphia Eagles. The only loss in the division came due to defensive leader and linebacker Sean Lee not being present to put the Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy on his back as he did in the first contest. We’ll talk injuries another time, though.
So you see, that adjustment alone gift wrapped the division for us. Unfortunately, the non-divisional games that we yielded cost us the actual NFC East crown as well as a playoff berth. The good news is we now have a proven “NASCAR” type driver as our wheel man in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. To quote Tom Cruise: “Kick the tires and light the fires!!”
Now comes the question “what have we done to adjust to the moves being made by our rivals in the NFC East this off season?”. Well, in my last piece I addressed changes we’ve made in the front office as well as on the sidelines. It needs to be stated, though, that while we’re moving and bringing in new pieces around at Valley Ranch the opposition has hardly been quiet. Actually, all three of them have been quite busy.
The Giants’ have lost key pieces in defensive end Justin Tuck and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. But they have reacquired wide receiver Mario Manningham and running back Rashad Jennings. They’ve also brought on defensive back Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie hoping he regains his form to strengthen their secondary. I’d say they’re breaking even thus far.
The Redskins watched former linebacker London Fletcher walk into the horizon of retirement, but, were able to coax away pass rusher Jason Hatcher (defensive end) from the Cowboys with the promise of a three year contract and $27 million. Although, I must say that wreaks of “Albert Haynesworth”, I’m a huge fan of them taking Hatcher’s demands off of our hands. Overall, the Redskins are stagnate and regressing. That is unless you keep reading.
The most interesting offseason moves in the NFC East thus far belong to the Eagles. After taking a step in a positive direction by obtaining dynamic (albeit downward trending) running back Darren Sproles from the New Orleans Saints, they curiously let quarterback Michael Vick walk. A move that definitely weakened them.
They then added quarterback Mark Sanchez as a replacement after his well publicized release from the New York Jets. Somewhere our defensive line is licking their chops. An obvious bungle only superseded by the release of their top weapon, wide receiver DeSean Jackson. So, all in all, they’ve regressed. The Cowboys really have nothing to fear here.