5 case studies that give the Dallas Cowboys defense hope

Atlanta Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers, Mike McCarthy, defensive coordinator, Mike PettineAdam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin /

Mike Pettine

Current Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was a defensive coordinator for both the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills before getting hired to coach the Cleveland Browns. The year before his arrival to Buffalo, the Bills had the 22nd ranked defense.

In his one and only year as the Buffalo defensive coordinator, the Bills had the tenth best defense which was no doubt a selling point when he got hired by Cleveland. The honeymoon was great as he raced to a 7-4 record but was fired after just two years on the job.

That was partly in fact due to the circus-like atmosphere quarterback Johnny Manziel brought with him but this franchise certainly didn’t envision their ninth-ranked defense to get worse under Pettine but that is exactly what happened.

Pettine’s defenses’ in Cleveland were never better than 23rd overall in the league and was looking for work following the 2015 season. Pettine would stay out of the league until then Packer’s head coach Mike McCarthy hired him to become the team’s defensive coordinator.

That was the same year McCarthy was fired during the season but interestingly enough, new head coach Matt Lafleur kept Pettine on the staff and he has excelled. Green Bay had the 22nd ranked defense before Pettine arrived and he posted back to back 18th ranked defenses before jumping into the 9th spot this past season.

McCarthy’s tenure in Green Bay always had good to great offense’s but the defense always trailed by a significant margin. Pettine has certainly closed the gap and the team is enjoying success with a complete team rather than trying to outscore everyone.

Green Bay firing McCarthy after their defense jumped five spots in their rankings from the previous year is sort of impressive. It also fits the narrative that McCarthy’s offense got stagnant which might be why the Dallas Cowboys kept Kellen Moore to call plays.

Either way, Pettine now has Green Bay in the top ten in total defense which McCarthy only had twice in his 13 years in Green Bay.