With the worst total defense in the league and the inability to stop any top tier QBs, people are starting to look at things a little closer, especially as we sit at 4-4 through the midpoint of the season. In the offseason, Dallas made the decision to move to the 4-3 from the 3-4, and we wondered who would run the show on defense. Monte Kiffin was hired and along with him came the credible and proven Tampa-2 (zone coverage defense).
Kiffin’s best decision was bringing in Rod Marinelli to breathe life into the defensive line, and through 8 games, he’s done an amazing job with what he has to work with. The defensive line is going to be good, but we probably won’t see the full potential until 2014. So, with Rob Ryan out the door, the Cowboys decided to keep LB Coach Matt Eberflus, and DB Coach Jerome Henderson as Ryan holdovers.
Eberflus has done a good job with the linebackers since he arrived in Dallas, and his squad has been playing good. It doesn’t hurt to have Sean Lee playing like a beast either. Conversely, the secondary has been a disaster again, and I’m starting to wonder if this is more of a coaching issue that it is the players. We brought in Brandon Carr and paid him like a franchise corner, but the results have been mixed since his arrival. He’s been an upgrade over Terrance Newman, but he’s not at his KC level in my opinion. Furthermore, we used a very high draft pick (#6 overall) in 2012 for Morris Claiborne and we are all very nervous about this selection, he’s bordering on bust talk the deeper we get in the season.
The secondary has not improved, and I’m wondering if Kiffin is regretting not bringing in a DB coach who is more familiar with the Tampa-2 scheme than Henderson. Henderson has only been coaching since 2007, and for the most part under the 3-4. As we all know, the 3-4 uses different coverage schemes and assignments, especially in Kiffin’s system. We are getting lit up in the secondary. You see Claiborne casually shadowing receivers and is too late to make any play on the ball, there are some serious issues with the scheme being taught in the secondary right now. Don’t be surprised if at the end of the year we see a new DB coach for 2014, perhaps poaching Raheem Morris from the Redskins. Morris is coaching under the Redskins new 3-4 scheme, so he is probably out of his comfort zone too.
The pressure is going to be on this defensive staff more and more in each game we struggle to win. We know its not going to be Kiffin or Rod Marinelli, so it may just be Jerome Henderson that starts to feel a real pressure to get this corrected sooner, rather than later.