Dallas Cowboys: It’s time to change the defense

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Davante Adams
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Davante Adams /

The Dallas Cowboys have lost two games where they scored 30 points and gained 400+ yards on offense, the rest of the NFL has lost two combined. What is wrong with the defense?

If that stat isn’t enough to make you want to throw up in your mouth, consider this: They are just the second team in NFL history to lose two home games in a row despite scoring 30 points in both games.

The other team? The 2012 Detroit Lions, a team that was 10-6 the season before and then went 4-12 in that year. Let that sink in for a second, the Dallas Cowboys are comparable to the Lions. Oh by the way, Scott Linehan was the offensive coordinator for the Lions in 2012.

…former Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said, “Sometimes we’d line up and Aaron Rodgers is calling out our defense as we’re lining up.”

I could continue to the statistics by pointing out they haven’t had a turnover in three games. Or I could talk about how they have given up 160 yards on the ground two straight weeks, but I think we all get the point.

Simply put this defense is worse than 2016 and is in dire need of help. Even if the young guys gel later in the season, it might be too late at that point.

When an offensive line has third string players on it, the starting running back is out, and the top wide receivers are sitting on the sidelines and those that are remaining in the game have just returned from injury, the defense should look dominant.

This defense, did not look anything like a dominant group. Sure, Sean Lee was out, but there are larger problems than not having one player, even if he is your best player.

So what exactly is wrong with the defense? Well, some of it is the players. As much as people thought Jeff Heath was an upgrade to either Wilcox or Church, it is apparent he is not. Some of the issue is the scheme itself. While injuries play a part here, the bigger issue appears to be none other than Rod Marinelli.

The type of Tampa 2 that Rod Marinelli runs is similar to the defense he ran in Tampa Bay. It is the same defense that in 2014 USA Today said was a defense that was dying because it no longer surprised anyone.

In fact, in the article former Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said, “Sometimes we’d line up and Aaron Rodgers is calling out our defense as we’re lining up.” Who is the only team still running a Tampa 2 for much of its base defense? Yup, the Dallas Cowboys. If you want to read more of that article click here.

Now, it isn’t the exact same Tampa 2 defense that was the base version in Tampa Bay, a few years ago Rod Marinelli started to hide the Tampa 2 with some players lining up either closer to the line or in a different spot on the field than the base. However, this was 2014 when he started disguising it. Not much has changed since then.

Related Story: Comparing schemes in Dallas: Cover 2 and the Tampa 2

The Tampa 2 has some glaring holes in it once you know what you are looking at. Guess where the two biggest holes are; yup, about 4-5 yards over the middle, and about 7-8 yards at the sidelines. What has been the soft spot on the Dallas defense this year? Over the middle and on the sideline.

One of the biggest keys to success to the Tampa 2 is the pass rush. In order for it to work and allow the back half of the defense to make a play on the ball there has to be pressure to make the quarterback make a mistake. If that doesn’t happen, there are few turnovers, and lots of yards given up. It is a bend, don’t break defense.

For those who say, well the Dallas Cowboys defense has a decent pass rush this year. You are right…kind of. As the game wore on, the sacks and pressure dried up. And this defensive line does not have a Warren Sapp or Simeon Rice, and the secondary doesn’t have a Ronde Barber or John Lynch either. And here we are, the Dallas Cowboys defense in 2017.

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Sure, there are some other issues with the defense. Jaylon Smith has played way too much and was not ready to play these types of minutes. The defense is young and is lacking experience which hurts making on the fly adjustments, Sean Lee being out made this problem glaring.

There are some tackling issues and angle issues that are going on as well. Some of that is either blown assignments due to youth or terrible playcalling.

So the answer to what is wrong with the Dallas Cowboys defense is fairly simple.

The Cowboys are using an outdated defense with very little adjustment and don’t have experienced players in the system to hide the deficiencies. Basically, the issue is Rod Marinelli and the rest of the staff and ownership refusing to change to the times. In other words, stubbornness and denial.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Analyzing the collapse in the fourth quarter

How to fix the defense is a hard answer. Unless the players get better, quickly, this season there is little chance they will become vastly better before it is too late. The real answer comes down to Rod Marinelli, Jason Garrett, and Jerry Jones. In the game of football adjustments usually is a large reason why one team wins and another loses. Either the Dallas Cowboys will have to start adjusting or find themselves a new defensive coordinator. Now we wait through a bye week to see what they do.