Cowboys notes: Monte Kiffin leans toward Tampa Bay defense over 'sabotage'

01/23/2013 11:27 PM

04/18/2013 7:29 PM

MOBILE, Ala. -- Monte Kiffin wants to believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense played well enough to win Super Bowl XXXVII on its own, not because it was "sabotaged."

"I would like to think that we played pretty good that day," Kiffin said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl.

Kiffin was asked his thoughts about former Raiders receiver Tim Brown's comments this week that Bill Callahan, then the Raiders' head coach, "sabotaged" the team's ability to win the NFL title in the 2003 title game. Kiffin was defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers.

"I have no comment on that," Kiffin said. "I won't say that very often. But I want to stay away from that."

Kiffin is now the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator, having been hired two weeks ago. Callahan was hired a year ago as the Cowboys' offensive line coach.

Kiffin was asked if Callahan had any kind of reaction during the week to the Brown comments.

He said good-naturedly, "He didn't. Whatever."

Kiffin also declined comment on the arrest of nose guard Jay Ratliff. Ratliff was arrested on suspicion of DWI after hitting a tractor-trailer in Grapevine.

"I don't have any comment on that, either. I didn't hear about it until this morning," he said.

Callahan, who was not seen at the Senior Bowl practices on Wednesday, put out a statement late Tuesday night addressing the allegations from Brown. The statement said the comments were "defamatory" and should be retracted immediately.

The statement was released by Callahan and not the Cowboys.

Owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett were not seen at Wednesday's practices, either.

Payton never leaving

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, reinstated by the NFL after a year's suspension in the "Bountygate" scandal, was once considered a target of the Cowboys after his contract extension was voided by the league.

But he said Wednesday he never considered taking another job.

"There was no way I was going to another team," he told reporters at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, site of the Senior Bowl. "The issue was a minor technicality. It was a minor clause -- you guys had it right, there was a clause that wasn't approved."

Payton said there was never any question he and the Saints would fix the problem.

Reason for change

Jason Garrett said the No. 1 reason for changing defensive coordinators was the lack of turnovers under Rob Ryan.

The Cowboys' defense had only 16 takeaways last year and 21 the year before.

Garrett noted that the Chicago Bears led the NFL with 44 takeaways this year.

"We had 16. That's 28 more opportunities with the ball," Garrett said this week before leaving the Senior Bowl. "Give me some of those 28 opportunities. That's something that we really sat back and thought a lot about, had a lot of discussions about -- what's the best way to try to achieve that, and then, 'OK, you want to do that, now who are the guys who can help implement that?'"

The Cowboys hired Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to be defensive line coach, joining his former boss, Monte Kiffin.

Garrett praised Ryan for making the defense competitive despite injuries that cost him half his starters, and he said he and Ryan did not have a personality conflict.

"Great guy, great coach," Garrett said.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter @calexmendez

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