This is the 3rd and final part of the 2013 Dallas Cowboy Defensive Preview. Part 1 which discusses the new defense, DEs, and DTs can be read here. Part 2 which looks at LBs, CBs, and Safeties can be found here. In part three we will put it all together and discuss expectations for the team in 2013.
What are the expectations according to the coaching staff?
Ask The Dallas Cowboy’s new Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin and he will tell you,
“This isn’t a three year plan.”
According to Cowboy’s brass, the transition from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 Monte Kiffin defense should not be seen as a typical rebuilding effort. This transition is expected to show immediate results, regardless of the status of Jay Ratliff. This defense is expected to be an improvement over last year’s defense. Period.
Coverage: Expect Interceptions
As for coverage, Kiffin does plan to use SOME of his old Tampa 2 defense but he will also incorporate Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, and Single High Safety coverages. He will mix man and zone coverage play to play. Sometimes even using man and zone coverage on the very same play. The mixture is all an effort to confuse opposing QB’s and to take advantage of their misreads.
The coverage is designed to deceive the offense. Through its deception is its ability to create turnovers. To read more about the coverage and how differing disguised coverages mess with the opposing QB and WRs, read this: Expect Turnovers.
Everyone expects Brandon Carr to step up in this new physical system. Contrary to some reports this defense is pretty ideal for his skill set. Morris Claiborne will struggle a little because he missed so much time in the preseason. It’s difficult to disguise coverage as a CB unless knowledge and confidence are peaked. Mo needs to grow both before he will excel to his potential.
Even with Claiborne’s slow start expect a big increase in turnovers this season between the CB’s and LB’s this defense has the ability to change the game in a big way. The pass coverage will have to excel because the Cowboys will have a very difficult time stopping the run.
With the loss of Jay Ratliff for the first 6 games and the lack of adaquite depth behind him the defensive line will be tested. Expect teams to run early and often against the Cowboys. The NFC East has 2 of the best RBs in the league in LeSean McCoy and Alfred Morris. They can have their way with the Cowboys. It’ll be up to the offense to score quickly and force teams to play from behind. If opponents abandon the run, the Cowboys should be in excellent shape. But if this offense fails to score quickly in games (like last season) then this could be a long season.
The defense is vastly improved but it is nowhere near where Monte Kiffin wants it to be. The Cowboys need one more offseason to improve the middle of the line and the safeties.
At the end of the year when all is said and done the Cowboys will boast a top 10 pass rush and pass defense. Turnovers will finally come for reasons explained earlier and the Cowboys should finally finish on the right side of the league average in 2013. Sadly finishing in the bottom of the league in run defense also seems inevitable. Strange as it may sound but the key to this defense is the success of the offense.
The transition will be both fun and frustrating to watch. The defense is moving in the right direction – clearly. But they aren’t there yet.