Monte Kiffin soon could be the Cowboys new defensive coordinator. Even his old players didn't see this one coming.
Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said he figured the 72-year-old Kiffin would get another shot in the NFL. He just didn't expect it to be with Dallas.
"I would never have guessed Dallas two weeks ago," said Brooks, who still keeps in touch with Kiffin.
Kiffin would convert the Cowboys back to a 4-3 scheme. The Cowboys played the 4-3 from their first season in 1960 until Bill Parcells' third season in Dallas in 2005 when he switched to the 3-4. The Cowboys have played the 3-4 since.
"I don't know if he has the players there yet. I hope he does," Brooks said. "I just know what we did to make our defense great. Some would say it's so simple, but at the same time, it's so complex. You always hear about Dallas, 'They've got talent. They've got talent.' Well, now it's time to roost. They can answer the question: Do they really have talent?"
Brooks compared DeMarcus Ware to Simeon Rice. Rice had 69 of his 122 sacks in his four years in Kiffin's Cover 2 defense.
"For the most part, all he's doing is going after the quarterback," Brooks said. "We know [Ware] can do that."
The Bucs had John Lynch at safety, Warren Sapp at defensive tackle, Brooks at linebacker, Ronde Barber at corner to go along with Rice. Sapp and Lynch are Hall of Fame candidates this year.
That is a big reason in 13 years in Tampa, Kiffin's defenses ranked in the top 10 in total defense all but two years -- 11th in 1997 and 17th in 2006 -- and top 10 in fewest points allowed for all but 2006 (21st). Six times they ranked in the top 10 in takeaways.
Kiffin also had top assistants in guys like Rod Marinelli, Lovie Smith, Joe Berry, Mike Tomlin, Herm Edwards.
"That was a big part of his success was his assistants," Brooks said. "They have to know how to teach. ...He believes every player can be coached."
Brooks knows one thing: Kiffin will be more motivated than ever after four years in the college game coaching for his son and a disappointing departure from the Bucs in 2008.
"Our defense once he made that announcement he was leaving, it's on record we didn't play well," Brooks said. "That doesn't sit right with him. I know that bothers him. He is motivated in that sense. He wants to earn his reputation back."
-- Charean Williams