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:


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:


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.