Cowboys expect smooth transition to 4-3

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dallas Cowboys were having internal discussions about a philosophical defensive change from the 3-4 scheme to the 4-3 even before last season ended.

Not long after their season-ending loss to the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys looked at their defensive pieces to see if there was a way to make a smoother transition. And this came before Monte Kiffin was hired as defensive coordinator.

"You just go through all those scenarios and at the end of it we felt good about, 'Hey, we can do this and it won't take us three years to do this,'" coach Jason Garrett said. "And we certainly want to continue to add pieces to it and make that defense better, but we felt good about the flexibility and versatility of the guys we already have."

Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli agreed with Garrett's analysis after they joined the staff. They used players such as Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Brian Urlacher as frames of reference for DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter.

But it's one thing to feel good about the pieces. It's another thing to know if the pieces will actually work.

Read more about the move to the 4-3 here.