Defense Wins Championships


Oct 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee (50) intercepts a pass during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Defense wins championships.  Which is why the Dallas Cowboys are going nowhere fast – except into the long, cold off season full of more questions than they answered in 2013.  Once again, the Chicago Bears embarrassed our Cowboys on national TV.  The Bears could have left their punter as one of the inactives for this game as he was never required to take the field against a pathetic defense that could not generate a single stop.  NOT ONE.  Let’s break this effort down.

> The Cowboys made Josh McCown look like Peyton Manning.  The same Josh McCown who has played for the Cardinals, the Lions, the Raiders, the Panthers, and now the Bears.  Since the 2007 season, he had made a total of 61 pass attempts – an average of just over 5 per season – prior to stepping in this year for the injured Jay Cutler.

>  The defense barely generated any pressure – except when they were hitting McCown in the head or diving at his feet and getting a roughing the passer penalty – and he carved them up throwing for 348 yards, 4 touchdowns, and running one in himself.  That’s no typo.  A perrenial backup not necessarily known for his scrambling ability managed to pick up more than one critical first down on his own and at a critical point early in the game when the contest was still in question, he ran one score in himself from 7 yards out.

> The defense surrendered 33 first downs a mere 4 weeks after giving up 40 first downs to the Saints.  And, we simply could not get off the field allowing the Bears to convert 72% of their 3rd downs – many of those a 3rd and long.  When they needed a first down, all they had to do was throw the ball.  There were always plenty of open options.

>  Monte Kiffin’s scheme isn’t working – unless his “scheme” was to bilk Jerry Jones out of a bunch of money for a half-hearted effort.  Kiffin was out coached at every turn Monday night.  Even when he did try the rare blitz, the Bears picked it up and had the perfect call to gash the Cowboys.  How many times can you rush four players and get no where near the QB and leave your already weak secondary vulnerable before you try something different?  Back in the day when the “Tampa 2” was successful, I guess it was a different league.  And, it was.  The pass-happy NFL we have today is making Monte feel old.  And, he is.  Time to let Monte join his son Lane and put him out to pasture.

>  Brandon Carr is a nickel corner.  No, I don’t mean the guy that comes in when you want an extra defensive back in the game.  I mean a corner that is playing like he’s worth 5 cents.  We paid $50 million dollars for this guy.  I’ve met BCarr and personally, I really like the guy.  But, he got owned last night repeatedly and has not played up to the level of his contract in more and more games of late.  He is supposed to be our shut down corner.  Part of the problem is the lack of pass rush, but there were plenty of times where he was flat out schooled Monday night.  Talented receivers in Marshall and Jeffery no doubt, but if you’re going to demand the big money, you have to shine in exactly these situations.  He hasn’t.

>  It was brutally cold Monday night and I don’t envy anyone having to play in those conditions.  But, I’m not paid millions of dollars to do it either.  It was painfully obvious as the game wore on that the entire defensive team just wanted to get back on the plane and go back to Dallas.  I’ve never seen a Dallas team quit during a game, but Monday night was as close as I hope they ever get.

>  All of Cowboys Nation was encouraged to see Sean Lee return for this game.  Unfortunately, not even he apparently made as big of a difference as one would have expected.  Perhaps, he was a little rusty just getting back from his hamstring injury.  But, he didn’t even make it through the entire game before he was injured again.  He’s tough as nails – would never question that.  But, an incredibly talented player that through just bad luck or bad karma can’t stay on the field is no better than a third stringer at the end of the day.

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) rushes into the end zone for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

>  While we’re at it, is DeMarcus Ware still on this team?  I love DWare and so appreciate his dominant level of play for the majority of his career, but he is a shell of himself.  He’s not getting a ton of help along the defensive front, but I’ve seen far too many times where the opposing offensive line has handled him with no problem one on one.  He’s not even requiring the consistent double teams he used to see and that’s part of the reason the rest of the D-Line is so ineffective.

> How many times have Cowboys fans told themselves “If we only had a running game, we’d be unstoppable”.  Well, Monday night put a giant hole in that theory.  The Cowboys ran the ball well generating nearly 200 yards rushing.  Apparently, it doesn’t matter so much when on the other side of the ball they are playing the “swinging gate” defense.  Ole!

So, Cowboys Nation, it’s come down to this.  Win the next three games and we win the division and a trip to the post season.  It’s mathematically possible, but after watching what happened Monday night, even the most diehard Cowboys fan has to know in their heart of hearts that it isn’t very likely.  At best, it will come down to the final game against Philadelphia it appears – but the more likely scenario is that the final game won’t even matter (except for draft order).  At least no one can blame Tony Romo this time around.  Go Cowboys!  Hope springs eternal.