More Myths of Monte Kiffin: This Defense is Easy


Welcome to Part 3 of, Debunking the Myths of Monte Kiffin. In Part 1 we addressed the Myth that Kiffin just runs the Tampa 2 Defense. In Part 2 we debunked the myth that the Tampa 2 was a version of the Cover 2. Also in Part 2 we took a look at the myth that Hatcher and/or Ratliff will fill the role of “Warren Sapp” in this defense.

Part 3

Myth: Rob Ryan’s Defense was too Complex and Kiffin’s Will be Nice and Easy

June 11, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin talks with safety Will Allen (26) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s human nature to simplify problems and then solve with simple solutions. For example, Rob Ryan’s Defense was too complex. Therefore, inserting Monte Kiffin’s simple defense will solve the problems on defense. While this is partially true it doesn’t really tell the whole story or give Kiffin’s defense the respect it is due.

Let’s look back at the REAL problem with Rob Ryan’s defense and then we can see what Kiffin will do to have better results…

Rob Ryan

Rob Ryan was fired in the offseason largely because his defense sucked (Sorry I couldn’t resist the cheap shot). Rob Ryan is principally known for his creativity on Defense (and his beautiful hair). He took poor-to-mediocre talent in Cleveland and Oakland and was able to have decent success against some very good teams. He never had a very strong ranking but that was a talent issue, right?

When Ryan arrived in Dallas we innocently said something along these lines,

"Dallas has waaaaay more talent than those other teams he coached.  Imagine what he will do here?"

December 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan reacts after a call in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Dallas won the game 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

We know how that question would later be answered. Rob Ryan’s imagination got the better of him and he overloaded the team with schemes and concepts they were unable to execute. Often times, confusion was apparent as Dallas gave up big play after big play and lost fourth quarter lead after fourth quarter lead.

Rob Ryan failed to understand his players’ limitations and he paid with his job. Yes, he endured many injuries but the uninjured veterans on the team made just as many mistakes as the 3rd string substitutes.

No one had a clue what to do.

I said it then and I’ll say it again – There is no problem with having a complicated scheme as long as your team can handle it. Some teams are smarter than others. Some players are smarter than others. As a coach you must know who is smart and who isn’t. Who can pick it up quickly and who you need to simplify for. A coach must put his players in a position to succeed. Ryan did not. That is why he was fired.

Kiffin’s Defense

When Monte Kiffin was hired, fans and media rejoiced (after plenty of age jokes). The general feeling was Monte Kiffin ran a simple Tampa 2 defense that should be comparatively easy to learn and execute.

Well, Monte Kiffin does not run just a simple Tampa 2 defense. We addressed that in Myth #1 on Tuesday. Even if he did, the Tampa 2 is not as easy as it sounds. It changes assignments and disguises coverages. Think about it, if everything was the same every time, defenses would pick them apart. The Tampa 2 is not easy.

In addition to the famed Tampa 2, Kiffin will run Cover 2, Cover 3, and mix in man and zone coverages. Kiffin will run stunts on the line. He will play an attacking 1 gap defense that will leave certain areas exposed if a simple assignment is missed. There will be growing pains as the players learn.

Bold Statement: At the end of the day, Kiffin’s Defense is every bit as complex as Rob Ryan’s.

May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin talks with reporters after the rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest difference in defense isn’t the complexity but rather organization. Kiffin has taught his defense for longer than Rob Ryan has been alive. He isn’t teaching the same thing as his Tampa days (we will address some new wrinkles next week) but he’s well versed on how to best install a defense. He has a core philosophy that evolves with the game itself. He is organized and calculated and should make the defense better immediately.

He will ease the players into his schemes focusing first on the traditional Tampa 2 and Single High Safety and then adding more as the players prove their ability to execute.

Truth: Monte Kiffin Has a Complicated Defense

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