While we lament Tony Romo’s uncanny consistency at ruining brilliant individual performances, please take aim at a defense that remains “up to the task.”Do not waste your time, effort or energy on blaming poor coordinator Monte Kiffin; just enjoy his stories about playing stickball with Jim Thorpe, tubing with Bart Starr, or boxing with Red Grange.Kiffin’s old football stories may be the best thing his defense produces this season.Just as it was not Rob Ryan’s fault one year ago, blaming Kiffin for the same results ignores the bigger picture — it’s the players. He doesn’t have enough good ones. The ones he does have aren’t as good as the sticker price suggests.The Cowboys defense may yet develop into something passable this season, but what we are witnessing is merely a continuation of the wreck that was late last season that exposes a major flaw — it’s the personnel, and the evaluation of said personnel.This is a cute way of saying they’re not good enough. Allowing the Broncos to hang half a hundred may be unacceptable, but if it happened, it is indeed acceptable because the players are not good enough to make it otherwise.Despite admirable declarations of personal embarrassment, or “Next man up” to “We have to find a way to get the job done,” it’s difficult when the guy lining up across from you is simply better.It is hard to make the play when God did not grace you with the necessary skills, or mental wherewithal, to do so the majority of the time.If this is not evident by now, it never will be.The Dallas Cowboys offense scored 48 points in a game, and lost at home. The Broncos offense entered the game scoring 44 points per game; all the Cowboys had to do was hold them to their average and they win.If you are a numbers lover, you will appreciate these defensive gems:• Has allowed at least 30 points in six of its past 12 games.• Has allowed a passer to throw for more than 400 yards in four of the past seven games; the Cowboys are 3-1 in those games.• Has allowed 81 points in the past two games.The home team now boasts a defense ranked 30th in the National Football League. Last season, the unit was 19th.The Cowboys dismissed Ryan in the off-season because this thing had to be fixed. BTW: Ryan landed in New Orleans next to Sean Payton, where the Saints are 5-0.This is not about the coordinator. Kiffin may be an upgrade over Ryan, and his relationship with head coach Jason Garrett may be better, but who cares if the results are the same, or actually worse?This is about the players Ryan or Kiffin is coaching. Often times the young men are in the proper place to make the play, but don’t because they can’t.This idea that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli can turn one of his guys into Warren Sapp is as unfair as it is unkind.The idea that Kiffin can turn linebacker Bruce Carter into former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks at this stage is offensive to Brooks. And J.J. Wilcox is not going to be safety John Lynch this season, if ever.This is about drafting cornerback Mike Jenkins in the first round, and then electing not to re-sign him because he was not good enough. A first-round defensive pick better be a two-contract player.This is about a replacement, free agent signee Brandon Carr, being pretty good but not worth the price.This is about Morris Claiborne not yet developing into a consistent player, and not looking like he was worth what it took to draft him sixth overall in 2012.This is about a defensive line that still can’t pressure the passer enough, and middle linebackers who aren’t making the types of plays necessary to make a difference.This is about the decision to pass on selecting LSU safety Eric Reid in the first round of the ’13 draft because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thought it was “too rich” to pick him there.Reid is arguably the NFL defensive rookie of the year right now.Kiffin is the defensive coordinator so he bears a portion of the burden for this mess, just as Ryan once did. They’re trying; they just don’t have the right tools.Their players are professional, they are organized, they sure are trying and they just don’t have the right tools.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof