Another season in the books for the Dallas Cowboys and another season of missing out on the playoffs coming into the final game with it all on the line. It is safe to say that Jerry Jones needed to make some changes in staff just not the changes most fans in Dallas wanted to see. With everyone asking for Jason Garrett’s head, not saying that’s a bad move, it just isn’t the right move. No coach can make the necessary changes within the culture of a team in just two seasons. Yes, Jim Harbaugh was able to, however he had the talent he needed to take them to the top in a very weak NFC West Division.
Shortly after their loss to the Washington Redskins, Jones went to work on making some chances. He relieved Rob Ryan, the second year defensive coordinator, from his duties. Ryan never really fit in with the scheme and the players that were given to him. The Cowboys did get him some cover corners that would help in Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. In his scheme you must have shut down corners so the safeties and linebackers can blitz the quarterback. I was surprised when Jones gave longtime defensive coordinator and innovator of the Tampa Two scheme Monte Kiffin a call.
It is safe to say that the 3-4 is dead in Dallas and that with Kiffin’s hire will change the defense to the 4-3 scheme that he is known for. This will also change the draft needs for the Cowboys. A lot of people are questioning moving Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to defensive in. You have to look at where they came from. Both players were defensive ends at Troy and Purdue Universities. This will be a seemless transition for the both of them. You can also see Jason Hatcher moving inside to play the two technique next to Jay Ratliff. This will leave Marcus Spears out of the loop but if he can accept the role as a backup he will be needed to spell Ware and Spencer.
What this does do is open up the needs for linebackers. Sean Lee will command his spot at middle linebacker and defensive captain but they will need two outside linebackers. Bruce Carter can play the weak side linebacker behind Ware and he has similar skills to that of former Buccaneers great Derrick Brooks. My top draft need for this new defensive scheme is a strong side linebacker who can cover. This is very important because they will be dropping into zone coverage to help with tight ends and running backs but will need to be able to rush the passer as well. Two players that come to mind are Manti Te’o or CJ Mosley. The change in scheme will allow the Cowboys to change their need from defensive line to linebacker.
They could possibly try and get a linebacker in a later draft but they need another safety. Gerald Sensabaugh isn’t getting any younger and the play of Danny McCray showed a huge weakness in the secondary. The Cowboys need to find their own John Lynch who was instrumental in the Tampa 2 defense and helped lead Tampa Bay to their only Super Bowl Championship. Eric Reid out of LSU is a punishing hitter who can cover some. The All-American safety led the LSU secondary with 91 tackles and two interceptions this past season before declaring for the draft after his junior season. One player to keep an eye on is Cooper Taylor from Richmond University, he could be a later round pick at safety. It will be interesting to see which way Jones goes come April.