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February 13, 2013

Garrett says 4-3 is easier to learn, which will help in case Cowboys have to go looking for injury help again

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said one reason for the switch to the 4-3 is that it’s easier to learn and easier to find players for in case of injuries.

“In this day and age in the NFL, with shortened offseasons, shortened training camps, injuries, all those kinds of things, it’s important to try and put offensive and defensive systems in place that allow you to deal with the schedule and absorb the injuries that very well could happen,” he said Wednesday during his press conference at Valley Ranch. “That was one of the philosophical advantages of playing this 4-3 defense. We think it can be a simpler defense for us, for guys to come in here and learn in this day and age, and also if you have the injuries to absorb, it allows you to maybe do that a little bit better.”

The Cowboys lost six starters and a backup to injury last year, and another backup-turned-starter (nose tackle Josh Brent) became unavailable after a drunken-driving charge.

Another reason was the lack of turnovers under former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense. The Cowboys had only 16 takeaways last year and 25 the year before.

“We’ve done a lot of good things on defense here in the last six years, but the thing we’ve probably have done least well is take the football away,” Garrett said. “And takeaways and turnovers and that differential is probably the single most important statistic in football, and I think over the last six years we are 24th in taking the ball away. ... So, that’s another piece to this puzzle when you talk about the additions to our staff and how they can help our football team. Monte’s track record with his defenses is outstanding, and Rod Marinelli in Chicago – they led the league with 44 takeaways last year. Forty-four is a huge number. Just by contrast, we had 16 on our team, so that’s 28 more scoring opportunities.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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