Monte Kiffin’s Cowboys defense playing faster, better

Posted Monday, Oct. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

For all the talk of no-names on the defensive line, the Dallas Cowboys tout plenty of familiar names on the defensive side.

Sean Lee, Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church are fast making names for themselves, and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli already rank among the who’s who of coaching.

That explains why the Cowboys are showing improvement on defense despite their injuries up front.

“You just go out there and play,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “That’s what we have done from game to game. We preach that to our players all the time as a coaching staff, individually and collectively. You’ve got to get better from game to game and week to week, so hopefully you can improve over the course of the first seven games of the season. That’s a big part of it. Part of that is learning the system. Part of it is new guys stepping in and understanding what their role is, the techniques we want them to play, and what their job is on each and every down.

“… It’s important for us to recognize who we are playing, come up with a play that is good for our players and for us to be successful when we go out and execute.”

The Cowboys blamed part of their poor defensive numbers through five games on two quarterbacks they faced, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. They should at least partly credit their rising defensive numbers the past two games on the quarterbacks they faced — Robert Griffin III still trying to find this groove after off-season reconstructive knee surgery and Philadelphia Eagles backup Nick Foles.

The Cowboys improved their defensive ranking again this week, rising to 28th overall. They lowered their passing yards per game but still rank 29th and are on pace to allow 4,670, which would rank among the worst pass defenses in NFL history.

But with the scoreboard as the ultimate indicator, the Cowboys’ defense deserves applause. They allowed only one touchdown the past two games combined, giving up 19 total points. The Washington Redskins and Eagles combined for five red-zone trips against the Cowboys but scored only 12 points in those trips.

The Cowboys allowed an average of 27.2 points the first five games.

“Across the board, we knew we had to get better after the way we played a couple of games,” Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said after Sunday’s 17-3 victory over the Eagles. “And we still have room to improve. But we take a lot of pride in playing this defense, and we’ve got to find a way to get better. But we have taken a step forward the last two weeks.”

Kiffin never lost faith in his unit, even after back-to-back poor outings against San Diego and Denver. Two weeks ago, he reminded a reporter of the Bucs’ improvement in his and Tony Dungy’s first season in Tampa Bay.

The 1996 Bucs started 1-7. They allowed an average of 326.9 yards and 20.6 points in those first eight games while learning a defense that eventually came to be called the Tampa 2.

In the final eight games of that season, Tampa Bay went 5-3, allowed 274.9 yards and 16.0 points. It was the start of big things for the Bucs, who won the 2002 Super Bowl title.

“I’ve said all along I think it takes a little bit,” Kiffin said Sunday. “I think guys are learning our system better right now. They kind of know, ‘I’m here and I’ve got this, and I’ve got the weak, stronger… when they motion…’ When you become a good defense, you play fast, and you know what you are doing. Like I say, you see a little, you see a lot. You see a lot, you see nothing. Well, we were seeing a lot earlier in the year. We were seeing a lot, but we weren’t seeing anything. Just see a little bit, read your keys, and you have a chance to see better.”

And play better.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Tuesday, September 02Full Scoreboard
Cincinnati0Bottom 3rd | Box
Baltimore5@theBallpark | TV: FSN-OH, MASN
Detroit1Top 8th | Box
Cleveland2@theBallpark | TV: FSN-DET, STO
Boston8Top 9th | Box
NY Yankees3@theBallpark | TV: NESN, YES
Philadelphia «4Final | Box
Atlanta0
NY Mets8Bottom 9th | Box
Miami6@theBallpark | TV: SNY, FSN-FL
Toronto8Bottom 9th | Box
Tampa Bay2@theBallpark | TV: SNET, Sun Sports
Milwaukee1Bottom 6th | Box
Chicago Cubs7@theBallpark | TV: FSN-WI, CSN-CHI+
LA Angels0Top 6th | Box
Houston7@theBallpark | TV: FSN-W, CSN-HOU
Texas1Bottom 7th | Box
Kansas City1@theBallpark | TV: FSN-SW, FSN-KC
Chicago WSox3Top 7th | Box
Minnesota3@theBallpark | TV: CSN-CHI, FSN-N
Pittsburgh2Bottom 6th | Box
St. Louis5@theBallpark | TV: ROOT-PIT, FSN-MW
San Francisco1Bottom 5th | Box
Colorado6@theBallpark | TV: CSN-BA, ROOT-RM
Seattle0Bottom 1st | Box
Oakland0@theBallpark | TV: ROOT-NW, CSN-CA
Washington0Bottom 1st | Box
Los Angeles0@theBallpark | TV: MASN 2, SportsNet LA
Arizona0Top 1st | Box
San Diego0@theBallpark | TV: FSN-AZ, FSN-SD
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, September 02Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 1Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Green Bay 8:30 PM ET
Seattle TV: NBC
Sunday
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
Chicago TV: FOX
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: FOX
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: CBS
New England 1:00 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
NY Jets TV: CBS
Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FOX
San Francisco 4:25 PM ET
Dallas TV: FOX
Carolina 4:25 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FOX
Indianapolis 8:30 PM ET
Denver TV: NBC
Monday
NY Giants 7:10 PM ET
Detroit TV: ESPN
San Diego 10:20 PM ET
Arizona TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, September 02Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard