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02/26/2013

The Cowboys have been dumbing down their defense since '08

080111-rob-ryan-400Since certainly it can't be the player's fault, and God knows it ain't the GM, we have figured out that the problem for the 2012 Dallas Cowboys' defense is actually the scheme.

According to Dallas Cowboys head coach Jerry Jones, part of the problem the Cowboys had on defense in 2012 is not a 3-4 but the type of 3-4 Rob Ryan operates. There was too much of it.

"Where we fundamentally came down with Rob is that his philosophy is about multiple scheme," Jones told Mr. Clarence E. Hill jr. of the Star-Telegram. "I think you have to skinny it down. Philosophically, I don’t think Rob believes in that. And it’s not something that happened and all of a sudden at the end of the year we had a problem. I think Rob will tell you we had long visits about this in the off-season last year that there was too much scheme. He tried to cut it back and he did skinny it back, but it’s still a lot.

"This is no revelation we had after we went 8-8. This was after the year before’s 8-8. We just didn’t feel like at the end of the day Rob could skinny it back enough to our satisfaction that we could make plays."

The problem was turnovers. The Cowboys' defense didn't generate enough of them. The rub is they are too busy in their own heads rather than just playing fast. According to this story by Mr. Hill, "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 under Ryan."

Wade III

If this sounds familiar it's because it is.

You may not recall but during the 2008 season, the second year under then head coach Uncle Wade Phillips and his 3-4 scheme, the team fell apart late by losing three of their last four. In December of '08, Wade said he was going to simplify the defense so his players could just react and play fast.

But in 2009, when the team finished 11-5 and won a playoff game, it wasn't a problem.

Now we are in 2013, and the team apparently was unable to simplify this scheme enough so they just scrapped the whole thing and embraced the 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

(It should be noted that the St. Louis Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher were set to hire Ryan, but backed off after a second interview. One of the reasons was Fisher didn't like Ryan's schemes too much, either. There wasn't a fit. Now Ryan is the new DC in New Orleans).

Fast, simple, sophisticated ... has anyone given any thought that it just may be the players aren't good enough?

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tengel@star-telegram.com
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Comments

Handle

Another impeccably researched and eloquently written post from journalistic powerhouse and undisputed football expert Mac Engel.

Gary

Since the Cowboy defense spent much of last season without the services of Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Barry Church (and since DeMarcus Ware played hurt most of the time), a case might be made that the defense was a bit talent-shy most of the time, particularly in the middle of the field. The more serious question have to do with why they underperformed against Seattle, when the A team was present.

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