From 1996 to 2008, Monte Kiffin built up his legendary reputation as the architect of the Tampa 2 scheme that helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become one of the most respected defensive units in the league.
His unit was even largely responsible for the Buccaneers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in 2003.
What a difference 10 years make.
At 76 years old, the current Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator has headed a unit that will go down in NFL history books for all the wrong reasons and will be forever recognized as one of the worst units in the history of the National Football League.
Jerry Jones needs to do Cowboys fans a favor, although he never does, and fire Kiffin immediately if he wants his team to have any chance of making the playoffs.
Yes, it’s no secret to anyone that the Cowboys are bad in December. It’s who they are. And it should come to no surprise that they were absolutely walloped on Monday night. Tony Romo often takes the criticism for these losses, but Monday’s 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears lies solely on the shoulders of this abysmal defense.
It’s one thing to get embarrassed by Peyton Manning for 51 points. It’s one thing to get embarrassed by Drew Brees with 40 first downs. It’s quite another to have journeyman backup quarterback Josh McCown throw for 348 yards and 4 TDs.
Blame injuries all you want Cowboys faithful, but Rob Ryan at least had this defense competing last year with the same amount of injuries. I’m not entirely sure you can even call what you saw on the field Monday night “defense.”
In the first half, the Bears had 12 plays of at least 10 yards and scored on a 37-second touchdown drive. In the second half, McCown and Co. basically did whatever they wanted to with the ball. The Cowboys had no answers for Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte. It was the second, yes the second time this season that they failed to make a team punt. The Bears scored every time they had the ball and left many fans with a bitter pill to swallow.
Kiffin was brought in the offseason to simplify the defense and change from the 3-4 to the 4-3. With Rob Ryan’s blitz happy scheme becoming too complex according to Cowboys insiders, Kiffin’s Tampa 2 was supposed to make for an easy transition that would better suit the team’s personnel. However, in reality you don’t really see much of that legendary scheme that made Kiffin into the great coach he used to be.
The Cowboys actually don’t use that much zone coverage, a key component of Cover 2 defense. Instead, they play a ton of man coverage to better suit the skill sets of Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Orlando Scandrick. The team didn’t even employ a dime package until Sean Lee went down with injury. By installing a dime package, Kiffin was able to play to the strengths of safety Barry Church, a strong tackler who was now able to move closer to the line of scrimmage.
Massive scale changes and injuries have forced Kiffin to alter his traditional scheme and have left the Cowboys even worse statistically and overall than they were in previous seasons. The Cowboys currently rank 31st in the league against the pass. Last season, under Rob Ryan, the team ranked 10th after 13 games. Against the run this season, Kiffin’s unit ranks 27th. Last season, Ryan’s run defense ranked 17th after 13 games.
After Monday night’s debacle it’s hard to see how Kiffin is going to fix anything for a team so desperate to reach the playoffs. Jerry Jones should swallow his pride for once and admit he made a mistake in hiring Monte Kiffin and fire him. As soon as possible. I think it’s the only way the Cowboys can perhaps salvage their season with three games left to play.
As Tony Romo said in his press conference following the game, “It feels as if we have to win out.”
Realistically, this team can’t win out with Kiffin in charge of the defense.
Put yourself and your team out of misery Jerry Jones, and make the appropriate change for once. Your remaining 2013 season counts on it.
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