There’s no defense for Cowboys

Posted Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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galloway If they gave out a football trophy for being hardheaded, knuckleheaded, or stupidity-headed, not even a crowbar could pry Jerry Jones’ hands off that piece of hardware.

Jerry, unfortunately, has “owned” that award for two decades. He’s our undisputed doofus.

But in a risky personal move this morning, I will challenge for second place on the doofus list by going hardheaded again on this point:

The Cowboys’ offense stinks.

It smelled again Monday night in Chicago.

But, of course, that’s not what anybody wants to hear this week. The overwhelming current disgust is aimed at the Cowboys’ defense, and when a quarterback named Josh McCown goes Johnny U on you, defensive dog-cussing has been earned.

I’ll save my offensive rant for later and flow at the moment with this week’s tide.

In a season of historic ineptness, the defensive FTC (failure to compete) against the Bears reached the lowest level yet, but it may not be the bottom.

Matt Flynn is coming up Sunday afternoon as the Green Bay backup QB, and the next week we will see Kirk Cousins starting as the backup for the Redskins.

It can get worse.

So when the season is over, go ahead and fire, or retire, Monte Kiffin. Fire ’em all. Fire the entire defensive coaching staff, despite what should be admiration for the D-line work of Rod Marinelli.

We can agree that whatever is supposed to be working does not compute. Or as a familiar name from back in the day, Emmitt Smith, reportedly tweeted at some point Monday night, “This defensive scheme is garbage.”

So it’s the “scheme,” huh?

I didn’t make that Chicago trip, so the same as Emmitt, I was watching Monday night on TV.

But I wasn’t thinking “scheme” as McCown, a career backup, took over the game, and took over the minus-zero wind-chill factor, by putting on an Antarctic aerial show.

Defensive players looked lost. Even certified NFL veterans were wandering around in the secondary, just flat not performing the most basic assignments. They froze up, so to speak.

That’s not to single out the secondary because the up-front pressure on McCown was minimal, and the Bears, as advertised, have good receivers.

But a former defensive coordinator, now retired, told me this week the Cowboys have the worst collection of defensive talent he could ever remember seeing in the NFL.

His statement wasn’t a defense of Kiffin. It was in the context of seeking an explanation on the injury situation that has wrecked the defensive unit since training camp.

On Wednesday, I turned to my esteemed colleague, The Man Who Watches Film, and asked for his breakdown on what went on in Chicago with the defense.

But first, we can all agree there’s a dividing line on this unit.

In one area, there are players who should not be on the field this season.

B.W. Webb is a rookie cornerback, and a nickel participant, who is borderline at the moment for even a practice squad spot on the payroll. But the fourth-round pick has to play because the first-round pick from a year ago, Mo Claiborne, can’t stay healthy.

Free-agent rookie safety Jeff Heath has also been forced into the lineup far before his time, even though he’s made more of a contribution than Webb. Sterling Moore is a practice squad lifer who also saw action at cornerback after being re-signed by the Cowboys two weeks ago.

These guys can’t be hammered. Neither can any name on the defensive line beyond DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. All the others are football boat people playing because of injury desperation.

But based on what was seen defensively against the Bears, it’s open season on everyone else.

Back to The Man Who Watches Film.

“There’s was so much not to like, but the most shocking was what went on in the secondary in Chicago,” he said.

“Brandon Carr was horrible. Orlando Scandrick has been good, but he was awful Monday night. They are corners who didn’t press in coverage; they didn’t play the ball in the air; they didn’t fight through blocks; they didn’t tackle. They were like dogs on ice chasing cars.”

But is there an excuse because of no pressure on McCown?

TMWWF: “To a certain degree, yes, but this was more of a fundamental breakdown that shouldn’t be happening to those guys.”

Speaking of upfront, his answer on Hatcher was harsh. “He has been the defensive MVP this season, but Monday night, in that weather, he played like a guy who wanted to be back home in Louisiana.

“And Ware? I swear he’s still hurt with that quad. He was not good at all in this game, but he’s got no counter move with his rush. He can’t push off and change direction.”

Then again, you didn’t have to watch film to see Monday night the continuing demise of linebacker Bruce Carter. “That’s the most frustrating player on the team,” said TMWWF. “All that talent, but he’s got the motor of a moped. No horsepower at all. I’d get rid of his butt. Effort-wise, he’s a massive waste of a second-round pick.”

The Cowboys’ defense was supposed to be helped against the Bears by the return of middle linebacker Sean Lee. But …

“Lee played like a guy who hadn’t played in a month,” said TMWWF. “He was simply OK. Lee has got to be better than simply OK.”

So if Emmitt wants to blame “scheme,” that’s OK. And if everyone is in favor of firing/retiring Kiffin, then age-discrimination can’t be charged.

But at times in this game — actually more times than not — it’s really about players playing. Or not playing.

Don’t be hardheaded and simply dismiss that part as a factor in the Chicago defensive debacle.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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