Defensive Issues in Dallas

Published: Jan 23, 2014 11:09am EST
By Steven Baer, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Jan 24, 2014 @ 01:07am EST


               While the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks get ready for the Super Bowl in two weeks, the Dallas Cowboys are looking how to just get to the playoffs after coming off a third 8-8 season in a row.

                In the season opener against the New York Giants the Cowboys’ defense caused six turnovers in the victory.  What also happened in that game set the tone for the rest of the year, Eli Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns.  The Cowboys defense allowed four 400 yard passing games against them this season, the only team in NFL history to allow that in one season. The Cowboys are also the only team to give up 40 first downs in a game, against New Orleans in week 10.

                Before the year got started Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones decided to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.  At the end of 2012 season Ryan’s defense was a mixture of starters, backups, and guys who were on the couch weeks before the cowboys called.  Jones said injuries shouldn’t be an excuse and let Ryan go after the season.

                This season Monte Kiffin had to deal with injuries to key guys like DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, Morris Claiborne, Justin Durant, and Jason Hatcher.  Two projected starters on the defensive line Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff, combined only played one game this season.  Tyrone Crawford, a defensive end who was suppose to be in the defensive line rotation, tore his Achilles in training camp.  Since injuries are not an excuse does Kiffin deserve to be fired now?  Or is this the players fault for not producing?

                The Cowboy’s are projected to be $22 million over the salary cap at this moment.  It’s not like they can just go out and sign a couple of free agents to improve this defense.  The draft appears to be the only way to fix this defense this year.  ESPN's, Mel Kiper, JR. has the Cowboys taking safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.  A safety who can play center field and make plays in the passing game is strongly needed in this Cowboys defense right now.  Jeff Heath and J.J. Wilcox rotated time last year at the free safety spot.  Both had problems getting beat constantly down the field for big play after big play.  Barry Church, the strong safety, is great in the box and hardly misses a tackle but his cover skills got exposed at times against tight ends this year.  Scouts said what stands out about Clinton-Dix is his athleticism. In terms of size, strength and speed, it's a rare combination.

                 Defensive line is another area of high importance in the draft.  The many injuries or not, the defensive line didn't appear to get off the bus for some games.  Defensive tackle and pro-bowler, Jason Hatcher was the only bright spot of this group.  Bad news, Hatcher is a free agent now and with the Cowboys awful salary cap situation, don't plan on Hatcher being back next year.  The Cowboys do have a chance in re-signing Anthony Spencer, who only played in one game this year due to having micro fracture surgery on his knee.  The past two years Spencer has made $20 million in franchise tags, and with coming off surgery the Cowboy's should be able to sign him for cheap.

                      Whether it's injuries, Rob Ryan, and now Monte Kiffin's fault this defense has been awful the past couple of years and with all the excuses aside this unit just needs to play better.


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