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February 14, 2013

Cowboys defense has been a turnover for a lack of takeaways

Jason Garrett was hired as the Cowboys offensive coordinator in 2007. He has retained that role even as he took over the head coaching title in the middle of the 2010 season. The Cowboys have not been as steady on the other side of the ball.

Monte Kiffin, who was hired last month, is the Cowboys' fifth defensive coordinator since the start of the 2007 season. That includes Wade Phillips, who also served as head coach, and Paul Pasqualoni, who replaced Phillips as interim coordinator when Phillips was fired during the 2010 season.

Turnover and lack of turnovers have been a problem for the Cowboys the past six seasons.

Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Dallas ranks only 24th in turnovers. It has averaged 23.8 per season in that span, including a franchise-low 16 in 2012.

Kiffin was hired to help solve that.

In 13 years in Tampa, Kiffin’s Buccaneers averaged 31 takeaways a season. The Cowboys new defensive line coach, Rob Marinelli, was the defensive coordinator in Chicago last season when the Bears had an NFL-best 44 takeaways.

"If you look at the correlation not only with our team, but throughout the NFL, of takeaways and points scored and consequently winning, I think there’s a real strong correlation between and among those things," Garrett said. "That’s another piece to this puzzle where we talk about the additions of our staff and how it can help our football team. Monte’s track record with his defense is outstanding, and Rob Marinelli in Chicago, they led the league with 44 takeaways last year. Forty-four is a huge number. By contrast, we had 16 on our team, so that’s 28 more scoring opportunities."

Garrett said the Cowboys believe they have the personnel to make a successful transition quickly.

“We got our arms around the fact that we feel like the guys we have on our roster right now can fit into a 4-3 style of defense,” he said.

-- Charean Williams

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